3 weeks into the season, Knicks still unbeaten

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3 weeks into the season, Knicks still unbeaten

From Comcast SportsNetSAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Instead of watching their season-opening winning streak come to a messy end, the New York Knicks served notice that they can't be counted out in the fourth quarter.Raymond Felton scored 25 points and New York stayed undefeated by rallying late to beat the San Antonio Spurs 104-100 on Thursday night.Trailing by 12 with 7 minutes left in the game, the Knicks (6-0) closed on a 22-11 run to remain the NBA's only unbeaten team."It shows me that this team is for real," New York coach Mike Woodson said. "We beat a great team tonight -- a well-coached team. It's the first time I've ever won in San Antonio, so I feel pretty good about that. It's tough to win here."J.R. Smith added 17 points, Jason Kidd had 14 and Tyson Chandler 13 for the Knicks, who snapped a nine-game skid in San Antonio. Felton, Smith and Kidd alone outscored the Spurs 26-25 in the fourth.Tony Parker led San Antonio (7-2) with 19 points and 12 assists. Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 14 rebounds.San Antonio grabbed its largest lead at 89-77 with 7:14 remaining when Tiago Splitter's free throw completed a three-point play. That capped a 13-point run by Splitter in the fourth after he failed to score while playing just a few minutes through the first three periods."He had some great minutes in there," Duncan said. "He got himself rolling there for a little while and kind of got us on the board."Woodson called a timeout before Splitter shot the free throw, and the chaos that ensued was exactly what the Knicks needed."I called one timeout, and it was kind of disarray in the timeout," Woodson said. "I was screaming and they were screaming, but we were still in the game."Kidd then sparked the rally with a pair of 3-pointers that pulled the Knicks to 89-85 with 5:49 remaining."He does it every single time," Chandler said. "I said it last game, whether it is a steal or a 3-pointer or something (else), he seems to always get it done."Smith and Kidd hit consecutive 3s to give the Knicks a 100-95 lead with a minute left.San Antonio missed seven of its last nine shots and had two turnovers in the final 2 minutes. The Spurs had won 18 of 19 regular-season games against New York.The late defensive push offset an uncharacteristic start by the Knicks.After holding their first five opponents to 87.8 points per game, the Knicks allowed the Spurs to set a quick tone when Danny Green opened with consecutive backdoor layups off assists from Parker and Duncan.The Knicks kept pace behind Felton, who had nine points and two assists in the opening period while shooting 3 for 5 from the field. Felton's first 3-pointer gave the Knicks a 29-24 lead with 2 minutes left in the first period.Steve Novak and Rasheed Wallace hit back-to-back 3s to extend New York's lead to 45-38 with 7:21 left in the first half. New York opened 6 for 7 on 3s.DeJuan Blair smiled at Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and gave him a double fist bump before taking the court for his first start of the season. The move paid off. Blair had two points and an assist while denying Carmelo Anthony the ball defensively and hounding the Knicks All-Star into missing his only attempt in the opening 8 minutes.Anthony appeared frustrated by the lack of touches, shaking his head and laughing when the Knicks rotated the ball away from him late in the second quarter.Anthony got aggressive after that possession, taking four shots in the final 3 minutes of the first half. He was blocked twice by Duncan under the basket. The first block resulted in Anthony's own follow-up basket and the second led to a 3-pointer by Green with 0.8 seconds that gave the Spurs a 57-55 lead at halftime.Anthony finished with nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field."There was a point in the game where I huddled everybody up and said use me as a decoy. And it worked out there," Anthony said. "Pop did a great job of not even double-teaming me, but triple-teaming me; every time I touched the ball, making me see three guys."NOTES:Spurs guard Gary Neal missed the game after cutting his right index finger while lifting his luggage before Tuesday night's game against the Lakers. Neal was able to play 8 minutes in San Antonio's 84-82 win over Los Angeles, but the cut grew worse. ... Including the playoffs, San Antonio has won 23 of 26 games at home. ... Duncan had his 736th career double-double, extending his lead among active players.

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

With their 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings sit 10 games under .500 at 17-27. In almost any other season, that would mean that they were dead in the water in the Western Conference playoff race. But this it the 2016-17 season where anything is possible at the bottom.

Following Sacramento’s win at the Palace at Auburn Hills, DeMarcus Cousins was asked about the playoff picture.

“It’s my only goal this season,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “My only goal.” 

When pushed on the subject, he gave a more complete answer.

“Oh man, it’s eating me alive - every loss or every time another team wins that’s battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive,” Cousins added. “Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season.”

The Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with the win over the Pistons and they came into the evening just 2-10 over their previous 12 games. 

Once they get through their current eight game road trip, they spend the entire month of February in the Pacific time zone and play 11 over their next 13 games at Golden 1 Center.  

“The one thing I can give credit to this team about is us staying together and being a positive locker room through the ups and downs,” Cousins said. “I’m still confident and I still believe we’re going to make that push for the playoffs.”

Despite the rough patch, the Kings remain just a game and a half out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. No one is running away with that last playoff spot, at least not yet.

 

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Everyone must contribute. With Rudy Gay gone for the season, Sacramento needs a team effort each night out if they are going to have a chance of turning things around. Balancing the roster on the fly is never easy, but it’s the hand that the Kings were dealt when their second leading scorer tore his Achilles last week.

Needing a win in the worst way, the Kings walked into the Palace at Auburn Hills and came away with a huge 109-104 victory. Demarcus Cousins put up numbers, but it was the supporting cast that found a way to rise to the occasion and snap the team’s five-game losing streak.

“We’re going to need everybody on this team,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “At some point, everyone on the bench is going to win a game for us. Tonight, it was Ty (Lawson), it was Willie (Cauley-Stein) and it was Malachi (Richardson).”

Lawson was a magician with the ball. He entered the game with the Kings down just one with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, but the Pistons caught fire around that time and pushed the lead to 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

It looked like Sacramento might fall behind big once again, but then Lawson and the bench unit took over.

“Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson and Willie Cauley-Stein had a great energy when we were down 11 in the first half,” Joerger told reporters. “Obviously, probably the best Willie’s played all year. Same for Malachi. He got some run, he got a little burn in the second half, felt pretty good.”

Powered by Lawson, the offense instantly opened up in the second quarter as the Kings tracked down the Pistons on their home floor. Sacramento outscored Detroit 37-24 in the frame to take a three point lead into the intermission. Lawson posted nine points and handed out four assists in the quarter.

“When our offense gets sticky, he’s able to create shots for guys by getting kickouts and getting in the lane,” Joerger said.

The 5-foot-11 point guard didn’t let up in the second half, finishing the night with 19 points and six assists in 23 minutes of action.  

“Chico just goes and plays, man, that’s Chico,” Cousins said of Lawson. “If there’s anyone with a green light to just go and play, it’s him. We love what he does with this team. He’s a spark off the bench for us. He gets us going when there’s a slump. We love the little guy.”

Lawson has become a catalyst off the bench for coach Jeorger. The 29-year-old speedster signed a one-year deal with the Kings late in the offseason and he’s quickly found his niche with the team.

“You play with Ty, you can’t help by want to run, because he will pitch it to you and that’s the best motivation - everybody wants to score,” said Joerger.

Cousins and Lawson didn’t do it alone. Cauley-Stein had one of his games of the season, finishing the night with 12 points and five rebounds. Darren Collison added 12 points, Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and veteran Matt Barnes added 10 points and eight rebounds.  

“It’s a big, bounce back win,” Cousins said. “We were kind of heartbroken about the last lost. We felt we did everything needed to pull a win and it just didn’t go that way for us. We kind of showed our character and showed we could overcome some type of adversity with the win tonight.”

The Kings are back at it on Wednesday in Cleveland when they hit game four of their season-long eight-game road trip. They’ll face LeBron James and the championship Cavs for the second time this month.  

“It’s huge, we had a little stretch where we lost like eight of nine games, something like that,” Lawson told CSN’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “Getting a win going into Cleveland, it makes us feel a little bit better. Now we’ve got to go in and get a tough one.”

A tough one indeed. Cleveland sits at 31-13 on the season, but they are coming off back-to-back losses against the Spurs and Pelicans.