The Knick are back in action against Kemba Walker’s Hornets after a sloppy loss against the Nets last night.
After an ugly loss to their crosstown rival in which the Nets led the entirety of the game after the first quarter, the New York Knicks (8-19) are looking to right the ship with a win tonight against the Charlotte Hornets (12-13). The Hornets, who in their last outing beat the Denver Nuggets, have been playing solid basketball this season and will present a challenge for the young Knicks.
As for New York, they were handled with ease by Brooklyn in their last outing. Thanks to bad shooting and porous defense, the Knicks couldn’t pull off the win, picking up their nineteenth loss.
Tonight, with Ntilikina back in the lineup and hopefully some motivation pushing them after a rough loss, New York will look to pick up their ninth win of the young season against the seventh-seeded Hornets.
Let’s take a look at what to watch for tonight in MSG.
The Frankie Smokes Saga
After catching three straight DNPs from Coach Fizdale, the French Prince finally got some run last night in the form of 16 minutes. He came out strong, starting with three assists in his first three minutes and contributing to stops with his defense.
Helping lead a mini-comeback that would ultimately falter in the fourth, Ntilikina was able to get to the rim a couple of times as well as hit a three in the closing minutes of the game. He would finish with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting along with his three assists.
AGGRESSIVE FRANK IS HERE pic.twitter.com/1beM0Dr3ys
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 9, 2018
Hopefully this performance means we see more of Frank in the near future, including tonight. New York will have to handle one of the best point guards in the league in Kemba Walker, and they’ll need their best perimeter defense if they’re going to slow him down.
Have You Seen My Shooting Guard?
Tim Hardaway Jr. wasn’t looking too hot last night.
After a relatively good game from him in Boston Thursday night—in which he lead the team in scoring with 22—THJ put up only seven points on a ghastly 2-of-12 shooting. He couldn’t get into his rhythm against Brooklyn, and it cost the team as a whole. When their leading scorer isn’t feeling it, it’s difficult for the Knicks to get it going offensively. The offense can become stagnant, with few other options when a shot needs to be created.
Hardaway can easily come back from a poor shooting night. He’s a streaky player at times, and last night he just couldn’t find his shot. Hopefully we see more of the good Timmy tonight against Charlotte. The Knickerbockers will need it.
The Average Hornets
Following an underwhelming year in which they went 36-46 and missed the playoffs, the Hornets look to have changed for the better this season. Thanks to the consistent great play from Kemba Walker (BX stand up), the addition of vet Tony Parker, and the improvement of players around the roster like Nicolas Batum and Malik Monk, Charlotte has turned themselves into a playoff contender. Currently 12-13 and seventh in the east, there’s a good chance we see the Hornets playing into April and potentially May.
While not the best defensive unit (ranked 18th in points allowed per game), Charlotte has proved themselves as one of the league’s top offensive teams. They score 114 points per game—good enough for the seventh most in the Association.
The Hornets rely heavily on their star Kemba to get them in the position to win games. His explosiveness opens up the rest of the offense, as opposing defenses have to focus much of their attention on him. Walker is currently averaging 25.8 points per game to go with 6.2 assists. If the Knicks are going to hold the Hornets’ offense tonight, they’ll have to start with slowing down Kemba. The best way to limit Charlotte’s ability to score is in limiting its star.
Tip-off for tonight’s game is set for 7:30 EST.