Basketball / Sports

Fredette (24 points) gets hot hand as Kings defeat Knicks in overtime

NEW YORK -- It's not uncommon for a coach to text a player a message that expresses encouragement and belief in him. But for that player, nothing replaces self-confidence.

So while Kings coach Michael Malone used a text message to convey those sentiments to Jimmer Fredette recently, it didn't have the effect of Fredette seeing his shots go through the hoop.

Fredette took a game that was on the verge of being yet another loss for the Kings and changed it by making shots. He had a career-high 24 points, and the Kings ended their three-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 106-101 overtime win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Fredette needed the boost from knowing he could make an impact by playing as aggressively as he did Wednesday, forcing Malone to keep him in the game.

"I needed it as well (as the team)," Fredette said. "I tried to go out and be aggressive, but I was able to play a lot more tonight, and it just felt good to play that many minutes and be able to contribute and really help this team win."

Fredette played a season-high 27 minutes and established career bests for baskets (nine) and three-pointers (six).

Extended minutes for Fredette was a change. He usually fills in for Isaiah Thomas at point guard to start the second and fourth quarters, playing only short stints.

Following a lackluster loss to Cleveland, the Kings (18-35) trailed by 13 in the first quarter. But Fredette sparked a 17-4 run in the second quarter, making his first six shots and scoring 15 in the period.

During the first three losses of this trip, Sacramento's bench had underperformed.

"My mindset was a little bit better," Fredette said. "I knew that we were in a hole and we needed this win badly going into the All-Star break. We didn't want to go in on an 0-4 trip, really thinking twice about our team. We wanted to end on a positive note."

Fredette had high hopes for this season, but he has yet to start and became the backup point guard only after Greivis Vasquez was traded to Toronto in December.

Malone said he recently sent Fredette a text message to say he still believed in him despite his struggles and he needed him to play aggressively and confidently.

"I give (Fredette) credit," Malone said. "This hasn't been an easy season for Jimmer, and I realize that. ... He changed the game. It was about to be a 25-point game, and his ability to come in that first half and get us back into it was huge."

The Kings needed it, too. DeMarcus Cousins left with 3:15 left in regulation because of a left hip flexor strain Malone did not believe was serious. Malone said the team would see if Cousins needed further tests.

After Fredette's three-pointer pulled the Kings within 93-91 with 1:26 to play, Rudy Gay took over. Gay tied the score with a 16-foot pull-up jumper with 20.8 seconds to play, then guarded Carmelo Anthony one-on-one and forced a missed shot and overtime.

Gay told Malone he wanted to defend Anthony.

"(I was) just holding myself accountable and trying to be a leader," Gay said. "In situations like that, I think the leaders step up and the great ones step up to the task, and that's what I wanted to do."

Gay scored 20 points. Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Thomas had 20 points and seven assists.

Anthony led the Knicks (20-32) with 36 points, but he had only four points in the fourth quarter and none in overtime. Amar'e Stoudemire added 20 points off the bench.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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