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Knicks rout Kings after slow start

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- After his team had started the game missing 13 of its first 14 shots from the field, Knicks coach Mike Woodson wasn't very complimentary of his players.

That didn't stop them from paying him plenty of compliments after their 120-81 trouncing of the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, a win they said was partially motivated by the chance to send Woodson and his staff to the NBA All-Star Game.

Thanks to a surging Amar'e Stoudemire's latest energy jolt off the bench, which produced 21 points, and J.R. Smith's 25 points, including seven of the team's season-high-tying 19 3-pointers, the Knicks nearly tied a franchise record for margin of victory. Instead, they emptied their bench early in the fourth quarter and the reserves set a team mark for scoring with 82 points, one more than the Kings' final point total.

Stoudemire, 10 of 10 from the field, also fell just one field goal short of the team's record for field goals made without a miss.

The victory put the Knicks at 30-15, meaning if the Miami Heat lose to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, the Knicks will have the Eastern Conference's best record and Woodson and his staff will lead the conference's all-stars.

"We wanted to do it for our coaches," said Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds for the second straight game, "to give them an opportunity to coach in the All-Star game."

Knicks guard Steve Novak, who is waiting for official word on getting a spot in the 3-point shooting contest, helped his case to join the festivities. He added 15 points on five 3-pointers for the Knicks, who were within nine points of the franchise's record for margin of victory (48 points) set several times.

The numbers might have been more impressive, but the Knicks, who led by as many as 50, went to the bench early in the fourth quarter after entering the quarter with a 45-point lead.

Even more impressively, the barrage came despite the fact Carmelo Anthony tied a season low with nine points, ending his franchise-record streak of 31 consecutive games with 20 points or more.

"It's great on a back-to-back to let him be able to rest a little bit and not have the pressure on him," Novak said of Anthony after the Knicks played their second game in as many nights.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 25 points to lead the Kings (17-32), who lost their third straight game and are 1-4 on their six-game road trip that concludes Monday at Utah.

"You don't often get a chance to be in these type of games like this," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "You lose them, but you have to look at it like you lost a game. You don't look at the score or what you have there. You lost the game in and in the column, it's going to be an L."

After entering halftime up 56-33, the Knicks pounded away even harder at the Kings. New York outscored Sacramento 41-18 in the third quarter to take a 97-52 lead into the fourth quarter. Smith hit five 3-pointers in the quarter for the Knicks, who finished the quarter with 16 3-pointers at that point.

The Kings took a 13-3 lead early in the first quarter as DeCousins scored eight points during the run as the Knicks' shooting faltered.

But New York quickly answered as the surging Stoudemire spearheaded a 16-7 spurt with seven points. The Knicks took their first lead, 22-20 on Smith's 3-pointer with 1:33 left in the first.

Stoudemire's performance again left teammates and Woodson raving and Smart acknowledged the inside play of Stoudemire and Chandler helped things up for the Knicks outside, when they would bombard the Kings with 3-pointers in the second quarter.

"It feels great to provide a certain amount of energy to get us over the hump," said Stoudemire, who said he feels great physically after recovering from knee surgery.

New York opened the second quarter with a 3-point shooting barrage that included six straight threes at one point as they went on a 27-3 run to start the quarter. The stretch included four 3-pointers from Novak as the Knicks went up 52-25 with 4:39 left in the second, expanding a 25-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Combined with a dominant stretch at the end of the quarter, the Knicks outscored Sacramento 43-10 in about 13 minutes of play.

"I mean, we had a slow sstart there, but as soon as a couple guys started making shots, it's contagious," Novak said.

NOTES: The Knicks hosted children, their families, and teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the site of the devastating December shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. A group of 20 children from the Newtown choir, including Sandy Hook students, sang a stirring rendition of the national anthem before the game as the video scoreboard panned to show their smiling faces. They received a loud standing ovation. ... Woodson said he wasn't "sitting at home holding my breath" over the prospect of coaching the All-Star game. Woodson said he would gladly take on the role but was focused on the "big picture," which included his goal of leading the Knicks to a NBA title. ... Kings forward James Johnson, who hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Knicks in Sacramento in December, was scratched from the starting lineup due to a sinus infection. Francisco Garcia started in his place. ... Knicks reserve Kurt Thomas, who has rarely played this year, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and thrilled the crowd and his teammates with a 3-pointer. ... Smart dismissed any concerns about the Knicks running up the score by continuing to shoot 3-pointers with the game well in hand, saying, "I don't feel that way. These are pros. You've gotta keep playing."
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