The Hornets started the game slowly again because yes. Their first points came at the free throw line after Cody Zeller (yes, Cody Zeller) was fouled on a 3-point attempt. They didn’t make their first shot from the field until four minutes into the game. Fortunately the Knicks aren’t any good either, so the poor shooting didn’t hinder the Hornets much. At one point, the two teams were a combined nine for 37 from the field. That poor shooting persisted through the end of the quarter, with the Knicks nursing a 23-20 lead at the break.
The Knicks scored the first nine points of the second quarter, putting the Hornets in a 12 point hole and extending the Hornets streak to 13 straight games with a double digit deficit (that’s every game this season). Devonte’ Graham helped pull the Hornets closer with back to back 3-pointers. Malik Monk found Terry Rozier and Graham for 3-pointers on consecutive possessions a few minutes later after the Knicks started to pull ahead again, and the latter pulled the Hornets within two. That was as close as they’d get before the half, and they went into the halftime intermission trailing by eight.
After a trademark Terry Rozier layup with a defender on his back out of the pick and roll, the Knicks went on a 9-0 run to build a 15 point lead. Miles Bridges, who only played eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, tried to make up for lost time but missed three shots and turned the ball over in the first 2:18 of the quarter. Devonte’ Graham kept the Hornets alive with a couple 3-pointers—he had already made six of them just over halfway through the third quarter. The Hornets vets took over from there. The Hornets went on a 13-3 run to pull within one point with Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, or Bismack Biyombo scoring or assisting on all 13 points. Malik Monk’s layup attempt was goaltended, giving the Hornets their first lead since the early stages of the game. A Mitchell Robinson dunk on the next Knicks possession gave them a one point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets played zone for most of the third quarter, and the Knicks had no idea how to handle it. They looked like last year’s Hornets trying to break it down. The Hornets kept riding the zone into the fourth quarter, but the Knicks started to figure it out a bit. The Hornets went cold. The Hornets fourth quarter woes were encapsulated when Mitchell Robinson twisted his ankle on the defensive end, hobbled down the court to get into the offense late in the shot clock, and then somehow got open under the basket for a dunk while barely putting any weight on his injured foot. The play put the Hornets down eight and forced a James Borrego timeout.
Terry Rozier came out of the timeout ready to take over. He found PJ Washington on a dump off then scored five stright points to pull the Hornets back within one. An NBA game suddenly broke out, with both teams throwing haymakers at one another. The Knicks finally missed after some very good defense from PJ Washington on Julius Randle. The Hornets called timeout with the ball, down two, and 6.2 seconds to play.
Julius Randle couldn’t shake PJ Washington in those final 2.1 seconds and the Hornets held on for the win.
Graham finished the game with 29 points and was frequently the only Hornet that could generate offense. PJ Washington finished with 19 points including some very important baskets down the stretch. Nic Batum acquitted himself well in his first game back despite making just one shot, reeling in nine rebounds and dishing out six assists while going +18 in his 29 minutes of action. Monk followed up his game winner with 12 points and five assists.
The Hornets will try to get their third straight buzzer beating win across the border against the Raptors on Monday.