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May 20, 2019

Drafting Right: De’Aaron Fox torches the Knicks as young star scores 30 in Sacramento’s 102-94 win at Garden

March 10, 2019

The Knicks have three point guards on the roster who were drafted in the top-9 since 2015 (Dennis Smith Jr., Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina). The Kings have one — De’Aaron Fox — and he was, by far, the best player on the court Saturday afternoon.

Fox punished the Knicks with 30 points and eight assists in 37 minutes to carry Sacramento to a 102-94 win at the Garden. It pushed New York to 40 games under .500 for the first time this season, while serving as a reminder that they don’t carry a future star the same caliber of Fox.

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Asked what happened on Sacramento’s pair of back-breaking runs in the second half, coach David Fizdale answered simply, “Fox.”

“He’s a big-time talent, man. He’s got such court presence,” the coach added. “He’s got true point-guard presence. He knows how to get his guys shots and at the same time turn it on and get his own. And for a young guy to have that kind of feel for the game, that’s pretty special.”

De’Aaron Fox goes off for 30 as Kings pull away late to push the Knicks 40 games below .500. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

Fizdale countered with Smith, the ninth overall pick in 2017, who started well but managed just seven points after the first quarter while missing 8 of his final 11 shots. Smith also was whistled for a technical with 2:12 remaining for getting into the face of Sacramento center Nemanja Bjelica. As a result, New York’s two-point deficit was pushed to 3 and started the Kings’ 6-0 run to finish.

Smith was furious for being bumped by Bjelica under the basket.

“I don’t know (what happened) but I don’t like it,” Fizdale said. “I’ve had my own share (of techs) at bad times but he was frustrated that he didn’t get the call. He thought the guy went on under him. But none of us can get techs at that moment.”

Smith also acknowledged his reaction was a mistake.

“He pushed me. It was a dead ball and he came up and pushed me and I retaliated and got us a tech,” Smith said. “Shouldn’t have done it. That coulda changed the game a little bit.”

Fox was chosen fourth overall by the Kings in 2017, three spots ahead of where the Knicks picked Ntilikina.

The Knicks tried to acquire Fox for Kristaps Porzingis before the trade deadline, but the Kings resisted. Instead, they dealt Porzingis to the Mavericks for Smith, cap space and two draft picks.

TIME TO GET FRANK ON DEFENSE

The last two defeats for the Knicks – to the Kings and Suns – have underscored the need for better perimeter defending since they were torched by Fox and Phoenix’s Devin Booker. On that note, Ntilikina missed his 17th consecutive game with a groin strain.

Ntilikina told the Daily News that he’s close to returning to practice but doesn’t know when he’ll play again.

“There’s been no setbacks,” he said. “We’re doing rehab the right way. We progressing very well. That’s something that’s a point. We just got to keep on going. I wish I was out there with the team, with my new teammates. I hope it will be soon.”

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