The game started with a tribute to the late, great Kobe Bryant, with both teams taking a 24-second violation on their first possession. Terry Rozier scored the Hornets’ first five points, but the hot shooting didn’t last long as the team was shooting 25% and trailed 15-9 at the first media timeout. The Slow Start Hornets were in full-effect tonight, and their woeful shooting continuing until the end of the quarter. Their field goal percentage dipped to a low of 19% at the 2:44 media timeout, and resulted in them finishing the quarter with a 26-15 deficit. On the bright side, they collected six offensive rebounds in the quarter.
The start of the second quarter was similar to the first; slow. The Hornets gave up a lot of looks inside to the Knicks in that time, and were unable to put a dent in their deficit, trailing 34-25 with 6:55 to go before halftime. Devonte’ Graham went to the locker room with what looked like an ankle injury at first, but he just needed to get it re-taped and quickly returned to the bench. Marcus Morris did Marcus Morris things, tossing Cody Zeller to the ground before a layup attempt and staring at him afterwards. Thanks in large part to Terry Rozier, who had 9** points in the quarter, the Hornets trailed 43-36 with 3:06 to go. Finally, after nearly an hour, the Hornets’ offense showed itself. Malik Monk used his quickness to get to the rim and create looks for himself and others, Willy played well on both ends, and the Hornets cut the Knicks’ lead to 50-47 heading into the break.
Miles Bridges opened the half by hitting a corner three-ball to tie the game at 50. The Hornets briefly led 55-53 for the first time since it was 8-6, but the Knicks eventually pulled ahead before a beautiful transition layup from Terry gave him 19 points and tied it at 57 with 7:03 to go in the third quarter. Right out of the timeout, Miles Bridges did this;
I thought that was pretty cool of him to do. It became a back-and-forth game at that point, with Dennis Smith Jr. making some nice plays for the Knicks to help give them a 66-63 lead with 2:33 remaining in the quarter. Marvin Williams hit a long jumper and then assisted on a three to Cody Martin, and the Hornets took a 68-66 lead into the final frame.
Willy Hernangomez got the fourth going with a three from the corner, giving him 13 points to go with 10 rebounds, his first double-double on the season. Cody Martin played pretty well on both ends in the final quarter, making a couple of key rotations on defense that led to missed contested shots, hitting a three and throwing down a sick Euro-step dunk, and finding Zeller for a nice assist. With about two minutes remaining, James Borrego laid out the blueprint for exactly how to use a coach’s challenge; Marcus Morris got an and-one on a made three after he kicked his leg out and Devonte’ ran into it, but upon review it was changed to an offensive foul on Morris. The Hornets didn’t play very good defense or rebound at all down the stretch. They tried multiple times to give the game back to the Knicks but Terry simply wouldn’t allow it. He was 8-8 from the line in the final 40.3 seconds, and despite some clutch threes from Damyean Dotson, the Hornets ended their eight-game losing streak and won 97-92.
After the Hornets woke up towards the end of the first half, this game was a grindfest. Terry was the only constant in this game, and Devonte’ was largely a non-factor outside of his usual assisting. He was listed as “out” for a brief moment with an illness, and it’s fair to assume that affected his play. Julius Randle and Morris scored 24 and 23 points, respectively, to carry the Knicks through this one. Miles scored 15 points, Malik had 13, Willy had 12, and Zeller put in 10 to give the Hornets a handful of double-digit scorers. All of their contributions came at different times to give the Hornets the boost they needed along with Terry’s consistent production.
It was definitely nice to get a win. Even though the franchise wants the most valuable draft asset as possible, the Hornets have to be able to beat teams like the Knicks at home. The Hornets are a bad rebounding team, and the Knicks are not, but Charlotte still managed to win the rebounding battle 51-41, including 16 offensive boards that helped them overcome a dismal 38.6% from the field. They were active on the boards all game, particularly Zeller and Willy off the bench, who each recorded a double-double.
The Hornets are back in action on Thursday in D.C. against the Wizards.