SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — For a team that's been on the wrong end of lopsided losses too often this season, the New York Knicks have become pretty good at pulling out the close ones.
It's not exactly the plan new coach Jeff Hornacek laid out at the start, but it's one he's willing to live with for now.
Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points, including two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining, and New York held on to beat the Sacramento Kings 103-100 Friday night.
"It just builds confidence and trust," said Brandon Jennings, who scored 13 points in place of injured Derrick Rose. "I know it's still kind of early, but for us this is big to win these close games . especially in the clutch."
Kristaps Porzingis added 17 points and 10 rebounds for New York. Kyle O'Quinn had eight points and 11 rebounds to help the Knicks beat the Kings for the second time in six days.
The Knicks have dropped four games by 19 points or more, including a 126-94 home loss to defending NBA champion Cleveland on Wednesday. Conversely, New York is 6-0 in games decided by four points or fewer.
"It's really been our defensive stops late that have allowed us to win these games," Hornacek said. "They're veteran guys that get after it and they have a confidence going. They don't get panicked, they just take their time and make the plays."
New York went cold from the field down the stretch but made six free throws over the final 2:09 to hang on.
The Kings missed multiple shots in the waning moments, including an uncontested driving layup by DeMarcus Cousins with 22 seconds left that would have given Sacramento the lead.
Rudy Gay missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining, and Cousins also missed a desperation heave from beyond midcourt that hit the rim at the buzzer.
"We competed the whole night but we had small mistakes and we have to correct those or continue to lose close games," Cousins said. "I hate to say it, but it's a learning curve."
Anthony had 23 points and five rebounds in the first half, then came up big from the stripe to help seal the Knicks' fifth win in six games. He shot 9 of 22 from the floor and made his first 12 free throw attempts before missing two with 2.6 seconds left.
Cousins finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Gay added 13 points for the Kings.
Things got chippy during a timeout with 2:23 remaining. Darren Collison of the Kings and Courtney Lee of the Knicks appeared to get into a heated exchange before players from both teams stepped between the two. Collison and Lee received technical fouls.
Knicks: Anthony scored 15 points in the first quarter. He also was called for a technical foul while driving for a layup attempt in the fourth. ... Jennings was 5 of 10 and had five rebounds with seven assists. He also shot an air ball on a free throw in the fourth quarter.
Kings: Collison scored six straight points in the fourth quarter and made a layup that briefly put Sacramento up 94-92. ... Cousins was whistled for a technical foul midway through the third quarter, his eighth of the season.
A REST FOR BARNES
Matt Barnes did not play for the first time this season, although Kings coach Dave Joerger said it had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation stemming from an altercation in a bar that Barnes and Cousins were allegedly involved in while the team was in New York last weekend. Joerger called it a scheduled rest for Barnes, adding that he plans to do it more frequently for the remainder of the season.
Knicks: Continue their five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. New York has won four straight against the Lakers.
Kings: Play at Utah on Saturday.