Trailing by as much as 38 points in the second half, the Charlotte Hornets were blown out by the New York Knicks, 124-101, on the road. Tim Hardaway Jr. lead all scorers with 25 points, while Dwayne Bacon was the Hornets leading scorer with just 15.
Despite the final scoreline, the first half was competitive, and the Hornets trailed by just seven at halftime. Both teams shot under 40 percent in the first quarter, making it a low scoring but close matchup. Marvin Williams kicked things off for both teams by knocking down two free throws. Enes Kanter followed up a bucket down low, which initiated a series of trading baskets between the two squads. Up 10-8, Charlotte forced New York to call a timeout after Nicolas Batum connected with Dwight Howard on their signature alley-opp play (that still hasn’t been properly scouted against, somehow!).
Charlotte couldn’t capitalize out of the timeout, however, and the score remained close. Part of that was due to a quiet quarter from Kemba Walker, who didn’t score for roughly the first seven or so minutes of the game, and only had four points in the first half. The Hornets briefly jumped out to a 19-14 lead, but a 3-pointer from Frank Ntilikina made it a two point game and forced Steve Clifford to call timeout. The Hornets pushed their lead back to five, but a 3-pointer from Hardaway Jr. with two seconds remaining cut Charlotte’s lead to 24-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Charlotte didn’t shoot well to start the second quarter, and New York got their first lead of the game. The Hornets called timeout after the Knicks went on a 9-2 run, but had to burn another soon after following a blown defensive assignment led to an open 3-pointer for Trey Burke. Malik Monk knocked down a 3 out of the timeout, but the Hornets continued to struggle to defend.
Six straight points from Jeremy Lamb cut the Knicks lead to one briefly, but the Knicks pulled it back out, pushing the lead to double digits. Kaminsky converted an And-1 just before the half, cutting the deficit to seven entering halftime.
Charlotte’s struggles continued early in the third quarter and they found themselves down by double digits again. They played with more energy and got a lot of easy buckets in transition. Charlotte continued to struggle on the defensive end and found themselves down 18 towards the end of the third.
But it got worse. New York pushed their lead to 27 as they continued to attack the hoop and Charlotte continued to miss.
And then it got even worse, as New York increased their lead to 32 as the third quarter wound down. By the end, the Knicks scored 42 points in the third, while the Hornets missed their last 11 shots of the quarter.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better, with Charlotte trailing by as much as 38, but in summary: Monk took about fifty shots (kidding, but seriously, he was 4-for-16), Trey Burke crossed up Kaminsky twice in a row, Ntilikina hit back-to-back 3’s in route to a new career high in points, but, to leave things on a positive note, Dwayne Bacon and Willy Hernangomez had solid garbage time performances.
Tonight quickly got out of hand, which was surprising given how competitive most of the first half went. New York simply came out way more aggressive, and Charlotte wasn’t up for a response. Players don’t intentionally tank, but when there is little to play for, games like this can happen.
I’d be surprised if tonight’s result doesn’t push Clifford to alter the lineup. Batum left the game with a sore achilles -- if that injury ends up being an issue (and achilles typically are), it gives Clifford a legitimate reason to go further into the bench. The Hornets will have tomorrow off before they pick things back up on Monday against the 76ers.