NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Knicks would love to play the Sacramento Kings more often.
Not here, not anywhere. Mutombo is a welcome sight in NY. Allan Houston scored 29 of his 39 points in the second half, and New York came back to beat the Kings 114-111 on Friday night for its seventh straight victory over Sacramento at Madison Square Garden.
"The only thing I can say, if we were to meet them in the Finals, we would feel like we could beat them," Houston joked. "That's about all that means.
"I think it still comes down to that it seems like when we've played them we've always needed a desperate win."
Perhaps none was more desperate than Friday, when the Knicks overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Kings after squandering fourth-quarter leads in their first two home games.
Houston scored 16 in the fourth period, and Keith Van Horn had 20 points and 13 rebounds to spark the Knicks to their first win at home this season.
"It's big for us to get a win like this against a team like this," Houston said. "Mentally we didn't let it slip, which we had every opportunity to."
Peja Stojakovic scored 36 and hurt the Knicks in the third quarter, hitting nearly any shot, no matter the situation, for 17 points. He made 3-pointers, slashed to the basket and hit short fadeaways, drawing groans from the crowd and smiles from his teammates.
"We just didn't respond. I thought we had them," Stojakovic said. "Allan and Van Horn got hot and we were just exhausted trying to defend them and contest them and just do anything to stop them."
Even when the Knicks played good defense in the third, the Kings found ways to beat them. When Kurt Thomas swatted Tony Massenburg's shot away at the end of the third quarter, it wound up in the hands of Stojakovic, who hit a fadeaway jumper as he fell to the ground.
But New York woke up in the fourth quarter, going on an 18-2 run to take the lead. Houston hit a 3-pointer, Van Horn drove strong for a dunk, and Dikembe Mutombo's block of Gerald Wallace's shot led to Charlie Ward's 3 that cut the Kings' lead to 93-92.
Van Horn then hit a 3-pointer to give the Knicks their first lead of the second half, with 7:07 left.
Houston, who did almost everything in the final minutes, including bring the ball up after Ward fouled out, and Howard Eisley both drove for easy layups that gave the Knicks a 106-100 lead and prompted Bobby Jackson to scream from the Kings bench, "They're scoring on us easy!"
After a timeout, Doug Christie hit a 3-pointer, and with 1:10 left, the Knicks started playing the clock, but the Kings nearly made them pay. Mike Bibby hit an open 3-pointer with 59.4 seconds left to cut the lead to 108-106.
After Houston hit a jumper, Stojakovic answered with an off-balance 3-pointer with 27.6 seconds left, giving the Kings a chance for the last shot without fouling.
Houston passed inside to Thomas, who missed, but Mutombo grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Brad Miller. He hit both free throws, giving the Knicks a 112-109 lead with 4.8 seconds left.
"He hit those two free throws -- he's probably going to want to shoot technicals now," Houston joked. "That's big for us, to show he can do it when it counts."
Mutombo, who played only four minutes in the second half of the Knicks' loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday, played 37 minutes and had two of his four blocked shots in the fourth quarter. But even when he wasn't blocking shots, he made slashers such as Bibby and Christie think twice about driving.
"It felt very good. It seems like my timing is coming back," Mutombo said. "Defensively, I'm moving a lot better."
Shandon Anderson then fouled Bibby before his shot, and Bibby hit both free throws to pull the Kings to 112-111 with 1.9 seconds left. Kings coach Rick Adelman said Bibby tried to hit the back of the rim with the second free throw, but it swished through.
"We couldn't stop them," Adelman said. "Seventy-one points in the second half -- you're not going to win any games on the road doing that.
"We were our own worst enemy tonight."
Houston hit two free throws for the final margin.
Ward fouled out in the second half. He had 13 points and 13 assists.
Knicks coach Don Chaney said he's still undecided about the permanent ninth player in his rotation. He's considering forwards Othella Harrington, Clarence Weatherspoon and rookie Mike Sweetney. ... Kings F Chris Webber, still recovering from left knee surgery, shot around before the game and joined the team on the bench in the middle of the first quarter. ... The last time the Kings won at Madison Square Garden was Jan. 13, 1996.
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