Hornets Ride Defense to 4th-Straight Win Over Knicks
Hayward Has Another Big Night, Charlotte Allows Season-Low 88 Points to New York
The Charlotte Hornets utilized their best defensive performance of the season and stretched their winning streak to now four games, locking down the New York Knicks for a decisive 109-88 home victory on Monday, Jan. 11 at Spectrum Center.
Gordon Hayward was the man of the night once again, finishing with 34 points on a crisp 11-of-17 shooting, three rebounds and three assists for the Hornets. Twenty-eight of Hayward’s points came in the opening 24 minutes of play, matching the second-highest first-half scoring total by a Hornets player since 1997 and setting a new high for any half of Hayward’s career.
Charlotte got off to a fast start and led by 17 points in the first quarter, before the Knicks rallied to make it a back-and-forth affair midway through the second. The Hornets entered halftime with a 57-50 advantage and then doubled the lead to 14 over the next 12 minutes heading into the fourth. New Yok never got anything going offensively though, racking up just 38 second-half points and a 12th loss in 13 visits to Spectrum Center.
“I just love our pride, our physicality, the communication and just the buy-in defensively more than anything,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “To hold a team to thirty-eight points in a half in the NBA, it doesn’t matter who you play – that’s tough to do. Our guys were locked in every possession. We weren’t perfect, but our defense is what is sustaining us right now and it’s giving us a shot to win every single night.”
Hayward added, “I was happy with our performance, especially defensively. We executed and really gave them trouble. It was a great gameplan by our coaching staff. It was a great win and we’re just going to try and use this momentum here to keep it going. When the ball is moving and you’re getting open shots and easy buckets, it’s just fun. Everyone’s involved. It’s hard to guard and I think we’re starting to figure each other out a little bit.”
Devonte’ Graham (season-high 19 points and seven assists), Miles Bridges (13), PJ Washington (13) and Terry Rozier (12) were also in double figures for Charlotte. LaMelo Ball narrowly missed his third straight double-double, racking up eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds (most by a Hornets rookie since Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in 2013), seven assists and three steals. Ball is now the first Hornets rookie with three consecutive double-digit rebounding games since Emeka Okafor in 2005 and now the only one ever with nine straight five-assist games.
Kevin Knox II scored a season-high 19 points off the bench for the Knicks, knocking down 5-of-12 three-point attempts in the process. All five New York starters – Elfrid Payton (15), Austin Rivers (13), Mitchell Robinson (12), Julius Randle (11) and RJ Barrett (11) – notched double-digit scoring performances, with Robinson adding 11 boards for his first double-double of the year.
Charlotte held New York to just 39% shooting and 24% from long distance (9-of-37), while committing just 10 turnovers, one shy of tying the season low. The Hornets also went a tidy 20-of-23 from the charity stripe (87%), connected on 41% of their three-point attempts (13-of-32) and tallied assists on 28 of 38 made field goals.
The Hornets will now close out their three-game homestand against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, Jan. 13 starting at 7 PM EST at Spectrum Center. Catch the action on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.