The New York Knicks, winners of five of their past seven games, will look to continue their ascent on Saturday when they host the slumping Indiana Pacers.
New York set season highs in points, field-goal percentage (58.6 percent) and 3-pointers (19) in a 140-121 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
"It was good, it was cooking," said Knicks forward Julius Randle, who collected 21 points and 14 rebounds. "Everybody was sharing the ball, everybody was scoring, having fun."
Randle averages team-leading totals in points (23.2), rebounds (11.0) and assists (5.5). The first-time All-Star averaged 14.5, 10.0 and 8.5, respectively, as the Knicks split their first two meetings with Indiana this season.
New York rookie Immanuel Quickley erupted for 25 points off the bench on Thursday, a welcome sight considering he was a disastrous 3-for-22 from the floor in his previous three games combined.
"It's all coming together for us," Quickley said. "We've taken a big step as far as offense and defense, but we're not satisfied."
Nor should they be in the eyes of coach Tom Thibodeau, who is preaching a cautious approach for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season.
"I don't want us to get lost and get too far ahead. I just want us to concentrate on what's in front of us," Thibodeau said. "I think you begin the season with (a playoff berth) in mind and all the things you have to do.
"You want to build those habits consistently. Practicing well is important, knowing your opponent well. If you start taking away from that and start looking too far down the road, that's when you're going to get clipped and fall."
RJ Barrett had 26 points in New York's season-opening 121-107 road loss to Indiana on Dec. 23 before producing 25 in a 106-102 road win over the Pacers on Jan. 2.
Indiana's Domantas Sabonis collected 32 points and 13 rebounds in the first meeting before adding 13 and 13 in the rematch.
Sabonis earned his second straight NBA All-Star selection on Friday afternoon after being named as a replacement for injured Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant. Sabonis' night didn't end on a happy note, however, as the Pacers fell for the seventh time in 10 games, losing 118-112 to the host Boston Celtics.
Sabonis fell just short of his 25th double-double of the season, recording 24 points and nine assists on Friday. Justin Holiday added 19 points for Indiana while Myles Turner had 17 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pacers shot just 39.3 percent from the floor while allowing the Celtics to shoot 51.2 percent.
"We just got to keep grinding it, keep playing hard," Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. "I like the shots we had late, I like the fight in our guys. We got down there nine or 10, and we kept coming back."
Pacers forward JaKarr Sampson missed the Friday game due to health and safety protocols. Although Sampson is not with the team at the moment, Bjorkgren told reporters that he "will be soon."
--Field Level Media