Hornets Look to Extend Winning Streak Against Knicks

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (5-5) vs. New York Knicks (5-4)
  • Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 at 7 PM EST (Spectrum Center)
  • Fox Sports Southeast, FOX Sports GO App and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Hornets won, 107-101 on Feb. 26, 2020 in Charlotte

LaMelo Ball is Rolling Through His First 10 NBA Games

The Hornets rookie guard is coming off his best performance to date, putting up career highs in scoring (22 points), rebounding (12) and assists (11) to become the youngest NBA player to ever record a triple-double in Saturday night’s home win over Atlanta. Ball has scored at least 12 points in seven consecutive games on 46% shooting and currently ranks second amongst all rookies in scoring (12.8 points) and first in rebounding (6.3), assists (5.9) and steals (1.5). The reigning third overall pick just continues to get better and better and has been a major factor in the team’s ongoing three-game winning streak.

Julius Randle Sparking Knicks’ Strong Start

New York is off to a 5-4 record under new Head Coach Tom Thibodeau heading into Sunday night’s home game against Denver and a big reason why has been the play of forward Julius Randle. The seventh-year vet has been doing it all lately with averages of 22.6 points on 49% shooting (36% from three), 12.0 rebounds (fifth in the NBA) and 7.3 assists (ninth), while averaging the second-most minutes in the league (37.7) behind only teammate RJ Barrett. With less of his scoring coming primarily in the paint, Randle has evolved into a more versatile and efficient offensive playmaker and will be a sturdy test for the Hornets on the defensive end.

Hornets Need to Force New York into Playing Faster

Charlotte’s opponent tonight was sitting just 27th in the NBA in pace (98.44 possessions per 48 minutes) and last in the NBA in both points scored off turnovers (14.2) and fast-break points (7.1; next closest team is Orlando at 9.2) through Jan. 9’s slate of games. The Hornets are currently maintaining the league’s 13th-quickest pace of play (101.55) and rank in the top six in the other two categories as well. Generating takeaways and forcing the Knicks to get up and down the court and at a speedier tempo will be vital as Charlotte’s offense looks to keep its momentum moving in the right direction.

Preview Quote

“I think the biggest thing for us is limiting teams in the paint. Last year, we did a horrible job of that and this year, we’re trying to clean that up a little bit. I feel like we’re doing a lot better in that aspect and it’s just leading to the offensive end. When we stop teams from getting into the paint, they tend to take bad shots. We get the rebound and we get out in transition and everything opens up for us. We feel like we get out pretty fast, so that’s to our advantage - not letting team get into the paint, just rebounding and running. We’re excited about that going forward.” – PJ Washington on the Hornets’ defensive approach this season

Final Thoughts

Charlotte is in the midst of its best stretch of a relatively short season thus far, getting balanced play on both sides of the court leading to a 7.8 net rating across its three-game winning streak. New York enters this contest boasting one of the NBA’s top defensive units and it’ll take another consistent all-around approach by the Hornets to pick up a victory and move their record to above .500 this evening.

Additional Notes

F Obi Toppin (right calf strain), G Frank Ntilikina (right knee sprain), G Alec Burks (left ankle sprain) and F Taj Gibson (not with team) were all out for New York last night… The Hornets have won four straight games against New York (played three times last season) and seven of the last nine head-to-head meetings overall. They’ve also gone 11-1 versus the Knicks at Spectrum Center since Jan. 14, 2014.

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