Hornets Erase 16-Point Halftime Deficit To Stun Surging Knicks

Charlotte’s Defense Buckles Down After 2nd Quarter For 2nd-Largest Comeback of the Season.

Kelly Oubre Jr. Highlights vs Knicks - 03/07/23

It’s been almost a decade since the New York Knicks had won 10 consecutive games and now, they’ll have to wait even longer to accomplish this rare feat thanks to the Charlotte Hornets rallying for a defensive-driven 112-105 road win on Tuesday night. 

Kelly Oubre Jr. set the tone for the victors with a game-high-tying 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting and five rebounds, marking the third time in four outings he’s eclipsed the 25-point barrier. Terry Rozier was right behind him with 25 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a game-best plus-20 plus-minus rating, good for his fourth 20-point showing in five appearances.

With the score tied at 21 after the opening 12 minutes, the Knicks shot a lights-out 80% in the second quarter to win the frame, 45-29 and enter halftime up by 16. The sky-high efficiency included a 10-of-11 mark from inside the arc – the only miss leading into a Mitchell Robinson put-back slam – and the 45 points matched a quarterly season high for a Charlotte opponent. Rozier’s 13 third-quarter points helped the Hornets get within two heading into the fourth, setting the stage for a dramatic back-and-forth battle.

Down 100-97 with 4:24 remaining on the clock, a PJ Washington free throw kicked off what ultimately turned into a game-ending 15-5 Charlotte run. During this stretch, Gordon Hayward notched an and-1 to put the Hornets up three at the 2:59 mark and two minutes later, he found Oubre for a right corner 3-pointer to bump the lead to five. Both sides committed offensive fouls in the final 35 seconds, allowing Charlotte to eventually ice the game with free throws.

When the dust finally settled, the Hornets’ defense conceded a mere 39 second-half points to the Knicks on 29.8% shooting (and only 16 in the fourth on a 19.2% efficiency), which was a fantastic display given what transpired in the second quarter. New York also managed only 12 total second-chance points, less than half of what it had when these teams last met back on Dec. 9 at Spectrum Center (28).

“We were just more detailed defensively,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford, when asked about the team’s play in the second half. “We did a couple things that were more aggressive with coverages, but mostly, our base defense we did a lot better. We made some mistakes in the first half and just executed better. Guys made big, big plays there in the last four or five minutes of the game.”

“We talked about it at halftime. We felt like we were playing hard – we just weren’t playing smart,” said Hayward, who nearly triple-doubled with 23 points, nine rebounds and a season-high-tying eight assists. “We weren’t executing exactly what we wanted to do. So, I thought we locked in a little bit more, especially down the stretch. We were in our positions, executing our defensive game. We were able to get some stops and score on the other end.”

RJ Barrett tallied a team-high 27 points for the Knicks, who came up just shy of recording their first season-series sweep of the Hornets since the 1991-92 campaign. Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley were both a bit cold offensively, combining for 30 points on 10-of-33 shooting (30.3%) and 5-of-19 from 3-point range (26.3%).

The Hornets will now close out their three-game road trip against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, March 9 beginning at 7 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.