Sacramento (8-28) at New York (22-16)

By TOM CASTRO, STATS Senior Editor Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 Tipoff: 7:30 pm EST Fri Jan 14, 2011

After splitting a tough four-game road trip against Western Conference opponents, the New York Knicks would seem to be getting a break as they return home to face the woeful Sacramento Kings.

Recent matchups between the teams at Madison Square Garden, however, have proved to be anything but sure wins for New York.

The Knicks look to stop a three-game home losing streak against the Kings, who are on the verge of dropping 13 straight on the road for the first time since 1990-91, as they open a two-game homestand Friday night.

A stunning victory over Western Conference-leading San Antonio on Jan. 4 propelled the Knicks into a four-game trip in which they faced Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland and Utah. New York alternated wins and losses on the swing, closing it out with a 131-125 defeat to the Jazz on Wednesday.

The Knicks (21-16) managed to cut a 16-point deficit to two in the third quarter and halved Utah’s 14-point lead in the fourth, but couldn’t complete the comeback. A bright spot was the play of forward Shawne Williams(notes), who scored 16 of his career-high 25 points in the third period and hit seven 3-pointers in the second half.

Fellow reserve Bill Walker(notes) added 23 points and shot 8 for 11 for New York, which also got 23 points and 11 assists from Raymond Felton(notes).

“They (Walker and Williams) were shooting unbelievable. In the long run hopefully it helps with (Danilo Gallinari(notes)) being out,” coach Mike D’Antoni told the team’s official website. “We gained another player in Walker in the rotation.”

Amare Stoudemire(notes) scored 22, but battled foul trouble and was limited to 27 minutes and a season-low three rebounds.

New York may need more production out of its star big man as it tries to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat to Sacramento at MSG. The Knicks blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead and lost 118-114 in overtime to the Kings at home Feb. 9, and were routed 121-94 there by Sacramento on March 20, 2009.

New York, loser of five of seven home matchups in the series, snapped a three-game overall skid to Sacramento with a 113-106 victory Nov. 17. The Kings have taken 10 of the past 14 meetings.

Sacramento, though, didn’t play very well against another Atlantic Division team in its last game, falling 119-95 at Boston on Wednesday. The Kings (8-28) shot 51.4 percent from the field but allowed the Celtics to shoot 52.1 percent and 60.0 (12 of 20) from 3-point range.

“All the layups we allow teams to get, we shouldn’t allow it,” rookie center DeMarcus Cousins(notes) told the team’s official website. “We just got to get back to the gym and practice. We just got to continue to work, we’re still a team in progress and we still got a lot of work to do.”

Carl Landry(notes) had 17 points and Beno Udrih(notes) added 16 for the Kings, who committed 23 turnovers in falling to 0-3 on a six-game trip versus East teams. They have allowed 124.3 points per game on their road trip, their worst three-game average since April 2009.

Sacramento has lost six in a row and 10 of 12 against East opponents. New York’s defeat Wednesday was only its second in its last 12 against the West.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans(notes) finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists at New York in February, scoring 12 points in the final 7 minutes of regulation.

Stoudemire had 27 points and 10 boards Nov. 17, while Gallinari scored 27.

Sacramento hasn’t lost 13 in a row on the road since a franchise-record 37-game skid Nov. 21, 1990-April 19, 1991.

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Friday, Jan 14