Written by William Lee
On the heels of being on the wrong side of the record book, now currently holding the worst start through 20 games (4-16) in franchise history, New York fought a team that was just as desperate as them for a win. The Charlotte Hornets are currently on a ten game losing streak, something that the Hornets could not have envisioned when they added free agent Lance Stephenson this summer to a top defensive squad last season. Instead the Hornets have taken a step backwards, and are now currently in the bottom third in points allowed by opponents, allowing 101.2 points per game.
Carmelo Anthony tried his best to right the ship, playing the whole first quarter. As per usual Anthony has his typical good start to the game, scoring nine points in the opening period. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his teammates, as the rest of the team shot as cold as the New York winter night 31%.
Bismack Biyombo got inside for easy back to back dunks, giving Charlotte a double digit lead late in the closing minutes of the first quarter 29-18. The Hornets did all their damage inside, outrebounding New York 14 to 6 in the first quarter. Charlotte scored 16 points in the paint, and had nine second chance points. And if the Hornets didn’t score inside, they got fouled attacking the paint, going to the charity stripe nine times in the opening quarter.
With Anthony needing a rest for half of the second quarter, his teammates continued to struggle shooting, only converting on a third of their field goal attempts. The Hornets made another run in the midway through the third quarter, going on a 13-4 run, the Hornets‘ would lead by as many as 21 in the period.
The three ball can be a great equalizer and ally in an comeback attempt, and that is exactly what happened in the fourth quarter. The Knicks went berserk from downtown, nailing half a dozen from beyond the arc. New York finally got it to single digits on a Tim Hardaway Jr. three 95-86 with 6:37 remaining in the game. Hardaway Jr. was crucial in the comeback, knocking down three threes, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Late in the fourth quarter Anthony hit back to back threes to actually complete the comeback, taking the lead 102-101 with 40.7 seconds left in the game. Anthony finished the game with 32 points and 7 rebounds.
Something interesting to note, it was backup point guard Pablo Prigioni running the point during the entire comeback, in fact Prigioni played the entire fourth quarter. Prigioni showed leadership and actually commended the respect of J.R Smith and Carmelo Anthony, who actually let him walk the ball up on inbounds, allowing him to run the offense. Particularly seeing this late in the fourth quarter, showed how much respect they had for Prigioni, normally Smith and Anthony would just walk the ball up themselves on the inbound opting to go into an isolation play. Prigioni dished out six assist in the comeback, and had a +/- of +16 for the game.
That was the good on Pablo Prigioni, now for the bad…with four seconds left in the game. New York needed one more defensive stop to snap the six game losing streak. With so little time remaining in the game, Prigioni inexplicably crowded Kemba Walker 30 feet away from the basket. With Walker’s feline quickness he drove right by Prigioni, getting a straight line drive to the basket for the game winning layup. Not only was it foolish to guard Walker that far out, it was not like Walker had a great performance all night, going only 3/14 from the field before the game winner, so there was absolutely no need to crowd him. Now for the ugly…the biggest aggrievement of the night was that fact that New York still had a foul to give, so that some time could click off the clock and Charlotte would have to set up another play again, with less time. The percentages of a successful play go drastically down, but Prigioni and the rest of the Knicks did not give themselves this opportunity, and walked away dropping their seventh straight game 103-102.