It was a dogfight for two and a half quarters but the Knicks prevailed at home in the East Group B showdown and advanced to the quarterfinals.

The New York Knicks (10-7) defeated the Charlotte Hornets (5-11) by a score of 115-91. Tonight’s victory gets the ‘Bockers to the double-digit win mark on the season with 30 percent of those victories coming against the lowly Hornets. It also gets them into the next round of the NBA In-Season Tournament.

It definitely was not the cleanest game from New York, which only shot 40% from the field and committed 16 turnovers. But the Knicks were able to overcome a dicey third quarter and secure a comfortable enough margin of victory over a subpar Hornets team, bereft of much juice with LaMelo Ball sidelined with an ankle injury. In three wins over Buzz City, the Knicks have won by an average of 20 points while scoring 122 points per game.

After a bit of a scheduling oddity with New York squaring off against Charlotte three times in the month of November, these two teams do not see each other again until January 29th.

No Stinger

Exciting rookie Brandon Miller, coming off a career-high 29 in these two teams’ last matchup, led the charge with 18 points on 4-8 shooting from behind the arc but had little assistance from Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward, who shot a combined 12-35 from the field for 28 points. The loss of Ball is a huge blow to a Charlotte squad that ranks in the top half of the league in points per game and field goal percentage, per NBA Stats, but put up their lowest scoring output of this young season in Ball’s first game on the shelf.

The Knicks won wire-to-wire but let the Hornets get as close as one point behind them in the third quarter, nearly squandering a 16-point cushion before running away with it down the stretch. Usually, teams up 20 points would take their foot off of the gas in the latter stages of the game. But with the In-Season Tournament and its emphasis on point differential factored in, the Knicks went full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal and buried the Hornets even more.

Julius Randle recorded 25 points and 20 rebounds, Immanuel Quickley scored 23 points and RJ Barrett contributed 16 points while shooting 9-9 from the charity stripe. Mitchell Robinson chipped in a season-high six blocks.

Hart of a Champion

You truly cannot say enough about Josh Hart’s impact on this team. It seems like every game, he is doing something that contributes to winning that you cannot teach. Tonight, Hart was third on the Knicks in points (17) and second in plus-minus (+25) and was more of a box score hero tonight than what we usually see from the 28-year-old.

Hart picked a great time to put up his season-high in points and it seems like the big moments come easy to him, like this pivotal possession down the stretch of the third quarter, where Charlotte was inching closer. Hart’s key bucket created some separation and New York never looked back.

Hart spoke before tonight’s game about needing to be in more of a rhythm and being less passive with his shot selection. He surely made some adjustments this evening and it paid off big time for the Knicks.

There was a chance for the Knicks to win East Group B but they needed the Miami Heat to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks, which did not happen. New York still advanced to the Knockout Rounds of the In-Season Tournament as the Eastern Conference’s wildcard. The Knicks will face the top-seeded Bucks at Fiserv Forum early next week.

The Knicks are back in action on Thursday at home against the awful Detroit Pistons, losers of 14 straight.

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