NEW YORK — Back after a one-game absence to rest, Kristaps Porzingis picked up where he left off in his last game and helped the New York Knicks get another big win at home.
Porzingis scored 34 points, Courtney Lee added a season-high 20 and the Knicks beat the Sacramento Kings 118-91 Saturday night for their fourth straight home victory.
After reaching the 40-point mark for the first time in his career last Sunday, Porzingis missed New York’s loss at Orlando on Wednesday night due to ankle and elbow injuries. His elbow swelled up again after crashing to the color on a couple of plays and he was pulled with the Knicks leading 88-60 with 2:53 left in the third.
“It has been a long time since we got a win like this,” Porzingis said. “Other guys can get some minutes and get their rhythm. Obviously, I wanted to be on the floor, I don’t want to sit out. But it’s nice. My body didn’t take as much damage, maybe, this game. I’ll (have) a longer rest until the next game.”
The break on the bench served him well. The Knicks will count on the NBA’s second-leading scorer Monday night in a rematch with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks won the teams’ last meeting on Oct. 29 behind 32 points and 12 rebounds from Porzingis.
“He was starting to look, getting tired,” New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We’ll need him for 82 games. . But I am sure KP will get a career-high again, probably pretty soon.”
Enes Kanter had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who led by as many as 33 points in the fourth quarter.
New York improved to 7-5, marking the first time since the 2012-13 season it has had a winning record after 12 games.
Skal Labissiere scored 19 points and Buddy Hield chipped in 17 for the Kings, whose two-game winning streak was snapped after building a double-digit lead early in the first quarter.
“We made a couple of shots and they didn’t score the first three or four possessions, but after that it was a run-away train,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. “I think we were running in mud most of the first half; especially we didn’t have enough life. They made us pay.”
The Kings got within one point on three occasions in the second period, the last coming with 6:54 remaining when Hield’s jumper made it 43-42. New York then took off on a 21-7 run, capped by four straight points from Porzingis, and led 64-49 at halftime.
The 22-year-old Porzingis, who is averaging 30.4 points per game, went 11 of 21 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He strung together six straight points to put the Knicks ahead 74-53 with 8:38 left in the third quarter as fans serenaded him with “MVP” chants.
Porzingis has eight 30-point performances this season and has scored in double-digits in every game so far.
“He’s really versatile for his height. I think that’s the biggest thing really,” Labissiere said. “He’s very skilled offensively and he’s just a really good basketball player.”
New York started out slowly, missing five straight shots and turning the ball over twice as the Kings jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
The Knicks closed out the opening period on a 32-13 run, highlighted by 16 points from Porzingis, including a personal 8-0 run.
Kings: Sacramento is 1-6 on the road, its only win coming on Oct. 20 at Dallas. … The Kings have lost three straight to the Knicks. They last beat New York on March 20 of last year.
Knicks: Seldom used rookie, Damyean Dotson, a 44th pick in the second round of the 2017 draft, had a career-high 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting in 14 minutes. . New York matched a season-high 29 assists, which was set in their comeback victory last Tuesday over the Charlotte Hornets.
Kings: Continue their trip at Washington on Monday.
Knicks: Host Cleveland on Monday night.