De’Aaron Fox hit a big-time game winner in the Kings’ 109-108 victory over the 76ers on Thursday night, but he wasn’t the only rookie to make an impact. Justin Jackson set a new career-high in points for the second straight game, finishing the evening with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The young Kings are getting opportunities and showing early season development.
New York is coming off a loss in Orlando, but they’ve won six of their last eight games overall for head coach jeff Hornacek. Third-year big Kristaps Porzingis is having a breakout start to the season, posting 30 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. But he’s nursing an ankle and elbow injury that kept him out of the Knicks previous game against Orlando.
Knicks by 5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Frank Ntilikina -- Drafted just three spots apart in the 2017 NBA Draft, the rookie point guards will both likely come off the bench for their respective clubs. Fox is earning starters minutes with his early play and coach Dave Joerger comfort level appears to be increasing with the 19-year-old. Ntilikina has struggled with his shot, but he’s playing nearly 20 minutes a game for Hornacek in a reserve role.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 3-8, fifth place in Pacific
Knicks: 6-5, third place in Atlantic
Kings: F Vince Carter (kidney stones) availability unknown at this time, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January at the earliest.
Knicks: PF/C Kristaps Porzingis (ankle/elbow) probable, SG Ron Baker (ankle) out, Joakim Noah (suspension) out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
KEEP IT ROLLING -- After a rough start to the season, the Kings have found success in the previous two games. New York is a off to a nice start, but they are young and still trying to find their way in the league. If Sacramento can play as a team, they have an opportunity to make some strides in the win/loss column during the road trip.
ACTION JACKSON -- Like Fox, Justin Jackson is earning a bigger role with his solid early season play. The former North Carolina Tar Heel will be called upon to guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and Doug McDermott on Saturday. Both are off to nice offensive starts on the season.
THE UNICORN -- Porzingis is quickly becoming a star in the league. The 7-foot-3 Latvian sensation can hit the 3-ball, take you off the dribble and score in the post. Willie Cauley-Stein played well defensively against Joel Embiid in the win over Philly. Sacramento will need Cauley-Stein to step up again if they have any chance of slowing Porzingis.
New York swept the season series last year against Sacramento, including a 103-100 victory at Golden 1 Center on December 9. The Kings hold a 153-142 advantage over the Knicks all-time, but New York leads 33-29 during the Sacramento-era.