The Knicks (8-5) won their third straight game against the Hornets (3-9) on Saturday night in Charlotte by a final score of 122-108.
The Knicks keep on rolling. Donte DiVincenzo had a career-high seven three-pointers made, and the rest of the Knicks clicked throughout the contest for another wire-to-wire road victory.
The Knicks had RJ Barrett back in their starting lineup after he missed the teams’ previous three contests due to a migraine. Quentin Grimes, who suffered a sprained left wrist in New York’s win against Atlanta on Nov. 15, was out again.
It was also the Knicks’ second time facing off with the Hornets this week, with their first game at Madison Square Garden ending in a blowout matinee win for New York.
The first opened up with solid play on both ends for the Knicks as they continue to climb up the rankings in the league in net rating. All of New York was playing unselfishly, while they were focused on defending LaMelo Ball on his savvy cuts and passes to other Charlotte players. DiVincenzo was especially locked in on defense in his start for Grimes. The three-pointers started to pour in for the Knicks around the halfway mark, with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle taking advantage of too much space around the arc. Despite some lapses on defense to end the period, the Knicks hung on to a 30-19 lead thanks to an all-around team effort.
New York just had to keep playing in rhythm with one another to hold onto their lead against a struggling Charlotte squad looking for any spark of life. The Knicks were beginning to show signs of being mortal scorers, going scoreless for the last five minutes of the first quarter and with that drought lasting until the 10-minute mark of the second frame of play. But, the Hornets were starting to get something going on offense through Ball and Brandon Miller’s two-man game, and the Knicks needed to figure out how to defensively bring the game back to their slower pace. Unfortunately, New York was closing the quarter and a half out on a weak note, allowing Charlotte to climb back into the game. A searing Brunson managed to keep the Knicks up by 11 at the half, but they had to clean things up on both ends to make sure this contest didn’t become competitive.
The third began with some sloppy play from both teams, leading to a fast pace to open the second half. Randle was beginning the period with some strong finishes at the basket, helping to maintain the Knicks’ lead, but they continued to struggle with containing the quick pace of Ball and his three-point shooting, as well as with a scoring showcase from Miller. Despite those two, the Knicks found their way again on offense thanks to DiVincenzo once again hitting three after three to counter Miller’s barrage. It was a back-and-forth period, and despite the Hornets’ sharpshooting, they were still up nine entering the final quarter of regulation.
With a Josh Hart three-pointer, the fourth quarter was underway, and the Knicks’ shooting from deep continued to be efficient. The Hornets were right there with their shooting, though, as Ball continued to pour in threes in response. Barrett finally drained a three-pointer, throwing his shooting into the mix for New York as they were looking to stave off another run from Charlotte. They managed to balloon the deficit to 15 again early in the fourth and built a larger lead with about four minutes left thanks to a career-high seventh threes from DiVincenzo. The team never took their foot off the pedal from there, and they won their third road game in a row by 14.
Brunson led all starters in scoring with 32 points and tacked on eight assists and three rebounds. DiVincenzo had a career night, scoring 25 points and grabbing three rebounds, while also dishing out three assists and collecting three steals. He also had a block. Randle had a quiet 21 points along with six boards and seven assists, while Barrett had 15 points, three boards, three assists, and a steal in his first game back from injury. Robinson had 14 boards, four points, an assist, and four blocks.
Quickley had nine points off the bench along with five rebounds and an assist while Hart had seven points, six boards, four assists, and three steals. Isaiah Hartenstein had four points and seven boards while Deuce McBride had five points.
The Knicks will now travel, again, to Minnesota to face off with the Timberwolves on Monday evening in what is sure to be a battle of two great defenses anchored by talented big men.