Knicks Zone in to Stop Hornets Streak

New York Erases 15-Point 4th Quarter Deficit, Wins in OT
by Matt Rochinski

By Matt Rochinski

Basketball can be a fickle friend.

Two days after rallying from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit and getting game-winning shot from Jeremy Lamb over Detroit, the Hornets saw New York erase their 15-point fourth quarter lead on the way to a 126-124 Knicks victory in overtime on Friday at Spectrum Center.

On a night honoring Muggsy Bogues, one of the best to ever put on a Charlotte uniform, it was the underdog Knicks who stood tall, holding the Hornets to 36.4 percent (8-of-22) shooting in the fourth quarter, including 3-of-14 shooting (3-of-14) from long range. New York also switched to a zone defense in the fourth, forcing five Charlotte turnovers leading to 11 points. Meanwhile, New York heated up offensively in the final frame of regulation, connecting on 56.5 percent (13-of-23) of its shots, including 3-of-7 three-pointers, led by 14 points in the quarter from Emmanuel Mudiay. By quarter’s end, the Knicks had outscored the home team, 35-20, to force the extra session.

“We got a great start. I mean if we overlooked them it would be a tie game in the first half – we were up 20. So we didn’t overlook those guys,” said Nic Batum. “We know we beat them pretty well a couple days ago, the way we started the game, we were ready for them again. Then they made the adjustment to zone [defense] and that’s on us. You have to give them credit, too. They played good defense on zone, and we didn’t find any solution.”

New York took the early lead in overtime on a Tim Hardaway Jr. trey from the right side to start OT, leaving the Hornets to play catch up the rest of the way. The closest Charlotte would get was within one point in overtime but still had a chance to pull out the win when rookie Kevin Knox missed two free throws with 5.0 seconds on the clock. Kemba Walker was able to rebound the second miss, but with no timeouts remaining had to force the action, taking the ball the length of the court but his drive to the rim was off the mark, ending Charlotte’s three-game winning streak.

Cody Zeller led the way for the Hornets with season-highs in points (21) and rebounds (13) to record the first 20-point, 10-rebound game of his career and tally his first double-double of the season. It also marked Zeller’s third-straight, double-digit scoring performance.

“Cody’s been good. I thought he was good tonight,” said Head Coach James Borrego. “He battled down there, made some good plays, good decisions and played hard. We’re definitely going to need him tomorrow night as well.”

Batum also matched Zeller with 21 points of his own, including five three-pointers as the Hornets tied a franchise best with 21 treys. Marvin Williams added four from outside the arc as well and ended the game with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Walker and Jeremy Lamb tallied 16 points apiece, as all five starters scored in double digits, while Walker also dished out 10 assists for his second double-double of the season. Frank Kaminsky scored 11 points off the bench to lead the Hornets reserves.

Mudiay finished with a game-high 34 points on 14-of-21 shooting and handed out a team-high eight assists.

The Hornets homestand continues with a 7 p.m. tip on Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.