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Fourth quarter fallout dooms Hornets in 118-113 loss to Knicks

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The road woes continued for the Hornets on Tuesday night.

After playing well for three quarters, the Hornets lost to the Knicks 118-113 at Madison Square Garden. They led by 11 going into the fourth, but got outscored 35-19 in the fourth quarter. This included an 18-4 Knicks run when thr Hornets were up by nine. Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk each scored 21 points. Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with another stellar performance of 28 points and 5 rebounds.

The Hornets got off to a hot start in Madison Square Garden. While the Knicks put up a really good first quarter, the Hornets scored 41 points in it, their most in an opening quarter this season. They shot 59.1 percent from the field, led by Dwight Howard who scored 11 of his 15 first half points in the opening period.

In the second quarter, Malik Monk came out with a chip on his shoulder. Perhaps thinking about the Knicks passing on him in the 2017 NBA draft, Monk showed no mercy. The former Kentucky star scored 18 points in 15 first-half minutes. When the Knicks made an early charge in the second quarter, it was Monk who answered each rally. Because of him the Hornets went into the break up 69-58.

The second half began with a balanced effort. Treveon Graham gave the Hornets great minutes off the bench. His energy kept a lot of possessions alive despite his foul trouble. In addition to that, the ball movement was excellent from the starters to the bench. In the end, the Hornets went to the fourth quarter the same way that they started the second half: up 11 points.

While the game looked like it was in control, the Knicks had other ideas. Their defense and the Hornets’ lack of player and ball movement played into their hands. All of the things the Hornets did to control the game in the first three quarters, they didn’t do in the fourth. Few teams can win a game when they allow an opponent to shoot 60 percent from the field—which the Knicks did.

The Hornets couldn’t afford to lose this game considering the strength of their upcoming schedule. With the Celtics and Cavaliers looming, it could go from bad to worse for Steve Clifford’s team. We’ll see if the Hornets can bounce back on Friday in Boston.