On the road in New York, the state in which he was born and raised, Jimmer Fredette brewed up some home cooking.
Fredette was a dynamo off of the bench for the Sacramento Kings, bringing them back early and keeping them in the game late. His 24 points and crucial shots down the stretch helped push the Kings to a 106-101 overtime defeat of the New York Knicks.
Sacramento tightened its defense in the second half, but the first was paced by New York’s offense and its 58 percent shooting. The Kings were down by 11 points when Fredette entered the game at the beginning of the second quarter, and he quickly provided an offensive spark.
In a dazzling display of three-point accuracy and acrobatic finishes around the rim, Fredette knocked the Knicks on their backs, scoring 13 points in just four and a half minutes. While the offensive assault eventually subsided before halftime, it was key in keeping the game within reach for Sacramento.
In the second half, Michael Malone continued to roll the dice with Fredette and the Kings reserve came through. One of his six made three-pointers came off the dribble – typically a sign that he’s feeling confident – with 1:26 left, bringing the Kings within two points and setting the table for Rudy Gay to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“I just was out there playing, and I was getting my shot off and I was feeling really good, so I just wanted to continue to be aggressive,” Fredette said. “I didn’t grow up too far from here and was always watching MSG growing up. I was able to put together a great game in front of some family and friends and it feels really good, but it feels even better that we won”
Along with Fredette’s timely scoring, the Kings were able to ratchet up their defense once their backs were against the wall. Early in the contest, Sacramento may as well have placed a welcome mat in front of the basket, as players watched opponent after opponent walk right into the paint for easy buckets. In the second half, however, the Kings held the Knicks to just 39 points on 38.5 percent shooting from the field.
Carmelo Anthony finished with 36 points, but it was about as well defended as such a scoring performance can be. He was forced to take contested attempts late and was stifled in overtime, going 0-5 in the extra period.
Perhaps most impressive was the Kings’ ability to close the game without their best player. DeMarcus Cousins went down, reportedly to a strained hip flexor, with just 3:20 left in the fourth quarter and the Knicks leading 87-85. Sans their starting center, who finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, the rest of Sacramento’s players rallied to force overtime before eventually pulling away with the win.
The victory is much needed and comes at a time when Sacramento was entering the All-Star break in a tailspin. The Kings followed up a successful couple of home games only to fall flat on the road, getting embarrassed by the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers in two of their three losses.
Concluding the road trip with a hard fought victory over a team in playoff contention should provide a boost to Sacramento’s morale as they head into a week-long break.
“We really, really needed this game,” Fredette said.