Draft steal Tyrese Haliburton haunts Knicks

Tyrese Haliburton made sure the New York Knicks would remember this loss for passing up on him in the NBA Draft.

Haliburton, who slid to No. 12 in the Draft, helped the Sacramento Kings deal the Knicks a stinging 103-94 loss that put an end to their three-game winning streak.

The Knicks went into a black hole at the start of the second half but appeared on track for a comeback in the final quarter before Haliburton made them pay down the stretch.

The 12th pick of the draft hit the dagger three-pointer with 2:35 left — his only field goal in the second half — that gave the Kings a nine-point cushion, 96-87. Then he stole the ball on the other end to seal the win.

“I guess it fueled me personally,” said a grinning Haliburton before pivoting.

“But I love it here. If we did this all over, I pray to God that I slid here. It’s not hard feelings or anything. It is what it is. It’s a business. I don’t care,” he added.

He must be incensed for getting little interest from a team that badly needed a lead guard.

Haliburton showed what the Knicks could have had at No. 8.

“My job is to make them think about that when they go to sleep. So I’m just going to go out there and be the best player I can be. I’m not that big into that motivation,” Haliburton said.

Haliburton entered the game as one of the top rookie performers averaging 11.1 points on 50 percent shooting and 49.2 percent from deep with his unorthodox shot and five assists.

The 6-5 rookie combo guard was the best rookie on the floor Friday night at the Golden1 Center.

Haliburton was all over the court as he finished with 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and four of the Kings’ 14 blocks in 31 minutes off the bench.

In contrast, the Knicks’ eighth overall selection Obi Toppin had six points and five rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench, his sixth game since recovering from an early-season injury (strained right calf).

The Knicks, playing on the second night of a back-to-back schedule, started slow and trailed by as many as 10 in the opening quarter. They recovered quickly and grabbed a 26-25 lead.

The Kings, who came into the game with the league-worst defense, stunningly limited the Knicks to just five points in the final 5:47 of the pivotal third quarter. They would grab a 10-point lead midway in the last quarter, but the Knicks charged back and got within two, 89-87.

The Kings lived at the line before Haliburton bailed them out with the big triple — their first field goal in four minutes — to gut out the big win.

”This was a weird, weird game for us,” said Randle, who led the Knicks with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists.

“We started slow, worked our way out of it, and was up at the half. The third and fourth quarter was a little bit of a funk. I don’t even know what happened. The ball stuck a little bit.”

The Knicks’ offense turned cold after a sensational showing the night before in a 119-104 rout of the Golden State Warriors.

RJ Barrett added 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, while Mitchell Robinson put up a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) but had little help from the rest of the Knicks.

De’Aaron Fox, who trolled the Knicks for landing No. 8 in the Draft Lottery, paced the Kings with 22 points and seven assists.

Together with Haliburton, they outplayed the Knicks point guards Elfrid Payton and Immanuel Quickley, who combined for 15 points and five assists.

The Knicks (8-9) will continue their West Coast trip in Portland on Sunday night.



Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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