When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The biggest story heading into this game is the health of Kemba Walker. The Hornets All Star point guard left Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks with what the team is calling a mild neck strain, but according to Rick Bonnell, he’ll likely be back in the lineup tonight.
The last time these two teams played, the Hornets blew an early 21 point lead before eventually falling in overtime to a depleted Knicks team. The Hornets offense struggled against the Knicks’ zone defense and only scored 41 second half points. Meanwhile Emmanuel Mudiay scored 23 of his career high 34 points in the second half and overtime. The Knicks shot 51% from the field and score 60 second half points during the comeback.
Thankfully, Mudiay won’t be available for the Knicks tonight; he’s out for the next couple weeks with a shoulder strain.
The Knicks have been on a downward spiral for most of the season, but it’s accelerated since that December win in the Spectrum Center. The Knicks have won just one of eighteen games since, a road win over the LeBron-less Lakers. In that time they have the league’s second worst offensive rating, second worst defensive rating, and second worst net rating. They’ve been worst in the league in shooting, assisting, and rebounding. They’re not good.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kevin Knox have been the team’s top two scorers behind Mudiay, averaging 16.3 and 14.2 points per game respectively since the last time these two teams squared off. Both are shooting under 38% from the field and under 32% from the arc to get those totals. Trey Burke has scored well while filling in for Mudiay. Allonzo Trier is a potential spark plug off the bench. Noah Vonleh can do some things. But there’s no one that this Knicks can reliably count on game in and game out.
The Hornets have to win this game. They’re a far superior team and they’re playing at home. They’ve already lost under these circumstances once, so they should be on high alert tonight.