for this game

Kings blow out hapless Knicks

Jan 3, 2008 - 5:19 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Isiah Thomas thinks he and some of the players he brought in will be here when the New York Knicks win a championship. He might want to start with winning a game or even reaching .500.

Thomas watched his team equal their worst 30-game start in over 40 years as the Knicks never led in a 107-97 loss to the shorthanded Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

New York saw its latest losing streak go to five games, giving it three skids of at least five games. The Knicks also were handed their league-leading 15th double-digit loss, and it all came against an opponent missing three starters.

New York dropped to 8-22, equaling its mark through 30 games in the 1964-65 season. The Knicks also are one game off the mark through 30 from 2005-06 under Larry Brown.

Their latest loss came after Thomas held one of his more lengthy pre-game sessions with reporters, stating that he and his personnel will be around when the franchise ends a championship drought that would extend to 35 years after this season.

"I believe that one day we will win a championship here," Thomas said before the game. "And I believe a couple of these guys will be a part of that. And I believe I'll be a part of that."

"He hasn't given up on us," Knicks center Eddy Curry said. "He hasn't given up on this team, on the guys he brought here. He really believes in us."

But the Knicks made Thomas' comments look even worse as Curry was the only productive starter. Curry scored 24 points after being benched the previous two games.

"I thought about 90 percent of the game (we played hard) and then there was a portion where we hit a little adversity," Thomas said. "Frankly, we got a little afraid to shoot the ball. We missed layups and passed up open shots. You got to keep playing. You got to keep fighting."

In another example of how the two post men cannot work together, Zach Randolph finished with just five points before getting ejected with 1:47 remaining in the third for throwing his headband at official Tony Brothers.

Jamal Crawford was held to just four points and Quentin Richardson went scoreless for the Knicks, who shot under 44 percent (35-of-80) and committed 21 turnovers.

"He can't get out on the court and play," Richardson said of Thomas. "We have to hold ourselves accountable."

The scoring disparity was so bad for the starters that Curry scored 20 and the other four scored just one. Thomas attributed that to the Knicks playing individually instead of as a team.

"We seem to play 'your turn, my turn' basketball," Thomas said. "I think our players are good enough individually, but there is a refusal to come together and play collectively. We do it in spurts but then we sit back and we watch.

"We somehow got to push through this and get them playing together as a group because individually they do have talent but until we want to play collectively as a group, we are going to stay where we are."

Stephon Marbury returned to the lineup following an extensive absence while grieving the death of his father and scored 16 in his first game since December 17.

The Kings, who held an 89-70 edge through three periods, snapped a four-game losing streak and played without Kevin Martin (groin), Mike Bibby (thumb) and Ron Artest (elbow).

Sacramento also won its third straight road game and improved to 4-10 away from home after dropping its first nine contests.

"We started it, 0-9, 0-10 on the road," Kings center Brad Miller said. "We started the season out losing, so we'll take any win. No one has pity for us missing three of our best players, so we'll take it."

Without its top three scorers, Sacramento got productive nights from John Salmons, Miller and Francisco Garcia, who combined to score 70 points on 27-of-49 shooting.

"It was definitely a point to come out early and set the tempo of the game," Salmons said. "For the first five minutes of each quarter, you have to set the tempo and for the most part we did that.

"We have three of our best players out so we have to come in every game and focus and try to get as many wins as possible. Hopefully, when they get back, we can make a push."

The Kings let the lead slip to nine with under a minute left, but the Knicks would get no closer.

"I thought for about 40 minutes, we played really, really well," Sacramento coach Reggie Theus said. "After coming off a tough homestand, to come in and get one on the road is a really big win for us. We have to stay in the mix until we get healthy."

Owner James Dolan stayed in his baseline seat near New York's bench for the first half. By the time he returned in the second half, Salmons and Miller helped push Sacramento's lead to nearly 20.

The Knicks tied the game twice early but fell behind for good when Miller hit a 3-pointer with 2:37 remaining in the first. They went just over six minutes without a basket during the second as the Kings went on a 16-2 run to take control.

The run put Sacramento in front by 17 and it took a 54-40 lead into halftime. The Kings stretched their edge to as many as 24 when Salmons stripped Crawford and coasted in for a reverse dunk with 2:58 remaining in the third.

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