With Julius Randle out for the second straight game (quadruple tendon) and mitchell robinson (low back) also offside, the Knicks walked away with a starting five of Jericho Sims, Obi Toppin, Alex Burks, Evan Fournier and rj barrett in their matchup against the Charlotte Hornets.
Here are the dishes to go…
– The only way to describe the first few minutes of this one was fast. “No defense” would also work. Both teams got off to strong starts with the Knicks going an impressive 7-for-9 from the field. But after a 15-14 start, with each team forging the other’s defense, New York finished the quarter on a 25-10 run, highlighted by an unwillingness to miss from deep. Even Toppin and Taj Gibson they were making it rain, with Gibson hitting a 3-pointer to end the fourth and capping the run that gave the Knicks a 40-24 lead after 12 minutes.
– But the hot shooting didn’t stop there. Known more for grabbing boards and blocking shots and not splashing 3-pointers, Gibson hit another from center and Miles McBride and Emmanuel Quickley he quickly followed suit as the tempo reflected that of a track meet rather than a basketball game.
Fittingly, on a day the Knicks couldn’t seem to miss from long range, Fournier, who was three 3-pointers from tying John StarksThe Knicks’ single-season record for most 3-pointers made (217), he hit a 3-pointer in the corner (his favorite spot) while falling in front of the Knicks’ bench to tie the 27-year-old record. New York increased its lead to a game-high 20 points, but a 7-0 run by Charlotte in the final minute of the half brought the Hornets within 13 as the Knicks headed to the locker room with a 69-56 lead. .
– As hot as the Knicks were in the first half shooting the ball, the Hornets were just as cool, shooting just 5-for-21 from center compared to 14-for-26 for New York. All that changed in the third quarter when LaMelo Ball came to life An 11-2 run by the Hornets, led by Ball, saw the Knicks’ lead cut to eight points.
But Barrett was determined to outshine Ball’s younger brother and hit a timely 3-pointer to give New York breathing room once again. Ball, who never shied away from the spotlight, responded with a 3-pointer as the shooting continued. Not to be outdone, Fournier hit his fourth three-pointer of the night to give him 218 for the season and sole possession of the club’s single-season record. And after looking in danger of blowing another big lead in the fourth, the Knicks leveled off and led after three, 99-87.
– After three quarters of high-flying offense, the fourth quarter was a bit stagnant. But despite the Hornets’ valiant effort, the Knicks maintained their lead and won 121-106.
But the story in this one really was the shooting. In fact, all eight players who attempted a three made at least one. Barrett led New York in points with 30 and Toppin, who played 40 minutes as a starter, capped the game with a pair of dunks to send home happy Knicks fans in Charlotte.
The Knicks have a day off before heading to Miami to play the Heat on Friday night at 8 p.m.