Where: Spectrum Center; New York, NY
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets look to make it four wins in a row as they host the New York Knicks tonight.
This sudden win streak comes too late to matter as far as the playoffs are concerned, as Charlotte sits six games back of 8th place with eight games to play. If you were hoping for better lottery odds then you’re understandably frustrated, but there’s a silver lining — the team’s brightest prospects are playing fairly well of late. Malik Monk finished Saturday’s game with 11 points while going 3-for-5 from the 3-point line. Dwayne Bacon scored nine and was part of the five that closed out the game. And while Willy Hernangomez struggled shooting, he was a bench high +10 for the night. At this point, I’m taking positives where I can get them, and all three are showing promising signs as the season winds down. Assuming Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller remain out, we’ll see all three again tonight.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are fresh off a, 101-97, victory over the Washington Wizards. Point guard Trey Burke finished with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting in his first start with the team. Burke’s start came due to an injury to Emmanuel Mudiay, but Burke has played well of late, scoring in double figures in four of the past five games. He was a bit of a handful the last time these two teams met, and I’d expect that to continue.
They are also experimenting with Frank Ntilikina off the ball, which is warranting positive results. Now is the time to experiment, and while it isn’t necessarily producing a lot of wins, the Knicks are content with development.
I suspect Charlotte is as well, hence all the added playing time and the conservative approach to bring Batum and Zeller back. The difference between New York and Charlotte, however, is the former still has their All-Star point guard and former All-Star center healthy and competing at a high level, while New York is without their franchise player. It’s why my money is on Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard leading the Hornets to their fourth straight victory over a Kristaps Porzingis-less Knicks squad. It may hurt their lottery chances, but it’s also a bit gratifying watching the rookies play well with the veterans. It raises hopes again, which is something we’ve had little of this season.