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Recap: Hornets get contributions from all over the lineup in overtime loss to Knicks, 134-131

A lot happened in this one.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets received 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists from Gordon Hayward, Dennis Smith Jr. tallied a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists and Théo Maledon dropped 15 points in a hard-fought overtime loss to the New York Knicks, 134-131.

PJ Washington finished with 17 points (4-8 3P) and five rebounds for Charlotte, as did Kelly Oubre Jr. Jalen McDaniels had 17 points (3-3 3P) and six rebounds. James Bouknight added 13 points and three assists. The only Hornets that didn’t enter the game tonight were Kai Jones and Mark Williams.

Jalen Brunson led New York with 27 points and 13 assists. RJ Barrett registered 22 points and eight rebounds while Julius Randle put up 17 points and six rebounds. Mitchell Robinson logged nine points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

Donning the brand-new, CHA-less purple Statement uniforms, the Hornets got on the scoreboard with a Washington triple. New York jumped out to an early 11-3 lead before Oubre and Smith finished back-to-back transition layups to wake up the offense a bit, though the Knicks were able to build a 17-9 lead by the first break. The Hornets shot 4-12 from the field to open the game, but were able to shake off the slow start by hitting four shots from downtown along with a couple of long twos in the closing minutes and trailed 32-30 after one.

Washington nailed a step-back three going to his left for at least the second time this season early in the second; he’s already flashed an expanded repertoire of off-the-dribble threes and long-range shot creation. He made back-to-back threes to give Charlotte its first lead since it was 3-2, though the Knicks would quickly get back in front. The Hornets offense was a bit uninspiring mid-quarter, though the defense was able to keep it close in spite of New York getting frequent paint touches. Maledon looked excellent in his minutes, displaying comfort as the initiator and restarting the offense late in the half with eight points. Along with Maledon, Bouknight and Hayward attacked the rim to help Charlotte cut into the deficit and head into halftime down seven, 69-62.

A 5-0 run out of the locker room by the Knicks stretched its lead to 12 before Hayward would go on a 12-0 solo run to slice Charlotte’s deficit in half and bring himself up to 19 points. In what was a consistent theme throughout the game, the Hornets never trailed by more than a dozen, but were never able to get within a few possessions of the Knicks, either. Maledon flashed in his minutes again, getting up to 15 points and four assists in 16 minutes. Smith continued to impress in his role as well, carefully balancing playmaking duties with shot creation and volume scoring. Hayward scored 12 of the team’s 28 third quarter points as the Hornets trailed 98-90 after three.

McDaniels nailed a pair of free throws and finished a lob in transition from Smith to bring the Hornets within three, 102-99 early in the fourth. Again, the Hornets were able to make it close but couldn’t break through and take the lead — until McDaniels’ corner three tied it at 111, and the Hornets swarming defense and late-game shot-making gave Charlotte a five-point lead in crunch time. The Knicks tied it at 120 with another quick 5-0 run and the Knicks got back in front off Randle’s putback with 46 seconds to go. Smith, who spent portions of the night absolutely roasting Brunson, spun right off him and finished over Robinson’s outstretched arms to tie it back up, and he even had a chance to attack an unset defense as regulation wound down before Steve Clifford opted for a timeout. Charlotte’s after timeout play was broken up, though Hayward was able to salvage a decent look that didn’t go down and the Hornets headed to overtime for the first time this season, tied 122-122.

Smith buried a fadeaway over Brunson for the Hornets’ first bucket of overtime, but it was mostly downhill after that. Oubre got hit with a technical for arguing a call, and he certainly had a case but the Knicks were able to capitalize, finding Robinson for a dunk on after the free-throw and using the three-point possession to go up 128-124. Washington went 3-4 at the line across two possessions to make it 128-127, though his go-ahead three-point attempt rattled out moments later. Brunson and Randle each hit a shot to keep the momentum in favor of the Knicks in spite of Washington’s best efforts. He drove to the rim and got fouled again, bringing the score to 132-129 at the line with 19.2 to go before hitting what would’ve been the game-tying three had his toe not been on the line. Clifford ran out of timeouts and despite a valiant effort, the Hornets lost, 134-131.

Stats of the Night:

Three Takeaways:

  1. There’s so much irony in the fact that all summer, Hornets fans and media (rightfully) lamented the lack of point guard depth, just for DSJ, on a non-guaranteed deal, and Maledon, on a Two-Way, to provide high-level minutes within the first week of the season.
  2. Hayward has been really good so far, and of course this is mostly due to LaMelo Ball being out, but he can't continue to lead the team in minutes much longer if the front office is to reasonably expect full health down the stretch from him.
  3. It might just be the hater in me, but the Knicks don’t look as good as a 3-1 record indicates. They’re not very dynamic offensively since none of their three best players are elite floor-spacers and only Brunson is a reliable/willing playmaker. They’re good, but I don't think a healthy Hornets squad is very far below them.