RJ Barrett
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The New York Knicks returned home Sunday and brought with them a contagious, horrific shooting touch that spread in a loss to the Kings. 

Robby Sabo

  • New York Knicks 92 (1-6)
  • Sacramento Kings 113 (2-5)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

NEW YORK, NY—An RJ Barrett missed free throw. A Frank Ntilikina three-pointer that firmly meets iron. A Kevin Knox airball.

The New York Knicks had a fever Sunday night and the only prescription never showed face at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

New York made just 32 of its 80 shots on the night (40 percent). From the opening tip, it was apparent this night belonged to the road team, the Sacramento Kings, who defeated the Knicks, 113-92.

David Fizdale kept it as real as possible following the good-ole’ fashioned whipping.

“It (was) just a crap game,” the Knicks second-year head coach said. “It’s just … we had nothing. We did nothing right. We didn’t execute on either end of the floor. To keep in perspective, for our guys, we’ve played six crap quarters this whole season. Three of them were in this game.”

Julius Randle led the ineptness charge. His 4-for-13 night from the floor continues a brutal stretch for the southpaw.

“Bad game,” Randle said in the locker room. “There’s not really much I can say about it. … We weren’t trusting each other.”

Bobby Portis received the surprise start over Mitchell Robinson. It didn’t quite work out, as Portis, who stunned his former team, the Chicago Bulls, two contests ago, finished 1-for-6 from the field.

The Kings thoroughly outplayed the Knickerbockers all night. It started from the mid-first quarter and spread to a 32-23 lead after one frame. Sacramento upped its lead to as many as 32 in the third. Fizdale’s squad could only cut it to 16 at one point in the fourth.

“It’s unacceptable, obviously,” Fizdale remarked. “We gotta take it, we gotta own it, and we’ll get back to the film and regroup.

More troubling than a poor shooting night that infected the entire home side was the defense. Every first step, especially coming from point guard De’Aaron Fox, blew past a Knicks defender (not named Frank Ntilikina).

“We just weren’t connected tonight, at all,” Fizdale admitted. “Offensively and defensively, we just weren’t tied together. I thought we’d take a step forward tonight after Boston. Credit to the young kids who played in the fourth, continued to play hard and win the quarter.

“I don’t know,” Fizdale responded as to what happened to the defense on a night a one-win Kings team poured in 113 at the Mecca. “I gotta watch the film. We just were not locked in, for whatever reason.”

Fox finished with a team-high 24 points and six assists. Buddy Hield continuously torched New York, especially from distance. His five three-pointers (5-of-11) contributed 15 of his 22 points on the night.

Marcus Morris turned out the only plus-shooting night. His 28 points on 9-of-14 from the floor led the Knicks. Early on, he hit a mid-range turnaround, a three and drilled two free throws for a quick seven points just eight minutes into the game.

Young RJ Barrett impressed yet again, finishing with 22 on 8-of-20 shooting. He also played 41 minutes, a heavy workload in today’s Charmin soft Association.

ESNY’s Collin Loring believes allowing the Duke product to experience a blowout, the first of his professional career, is worth something.

The head coach obviously agrees Barrett shouldn’t have ducked out early, as, of course, he left him in the game, but for a completely different reason.

“He’s got the day off tomorrow,” Fizdale quickly replied to a question pertaining to RJ Barrett’s 41 minutes played in a blowout. “We gotta get off this load-management crap. Latrell Sprewell averaged 42 minutes for a season. This kid is 19 years old. Drop it already.”

When contagious shooting and poor floor communication reach its climax, frustration builds. When frustration builds, the head coach will unveil honesty at the postgame presser.

Coupled with Fizdale’s animated displeasure over 48 minutes, the presser’s stern tone offers up a little fight. Through six games this season, despite a 1-5 record, the one thing the Knicks couldn’t be tagged with is lazy, unmotivated. The young bucks have fought tooth and nail. Sunday night provided a glimpse into what happens when the Knicks don’t scratch and claw.

Contagious poor shooting is to be expected at times. Contagious poor shooting coupled with terrible defense, poor communication and a questionable battle level will get a squad dunked on from start to finish.

The Knicks will take Monday off. Next up for the squad will be the Detroit Pistons on the road Wednesday night. David Fizdale is hoping those shooting germs remain in Manhattan for the time being.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com