The Charlotte Hornets have been fragile for a long time in close games. Monday, against the heavily depleted New York Knicks, they made the fourth quarter moot.
The Hornets ran up a 26-point lead in the first three quarters and cruised to a 109-91 victory at Spectrum Center. This was just the second victory in the Hornets’ last eight games.
The Knicks (16-14) played without top scorers Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. Beyond the damage that did to the top of New York’s lineup, it robbed the Knicks of any real depth: The Hornets outscored New York 31-19 in the second quarter, essentially putting this one away.
Hornets reserve forward Frank Kaminsky matched his season high with 24 points, making his first four attempts from 3-point range. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dwight Howard each assembled points-rebounds double-doubles.
The Hornets are 11-19. They’d lost their last two home games in a span when they need to make up ground to get back into the playoff race. Three of their next four games are also at Spectrum Center.
Three who mattered
Kaminsky: The Hornets bench has been anything but reliable of late; Kaminsky’s shooting made a big difference Monday.
Dwight Howard: His fourth double-double in the last six games.
Michael Beasley: He’s been solid (23 points Monday) and versatile for the Knicks so far.
▪ Porzingis (sore left knee) was questionable, and went through morning shootaround, but the Knicks chose to sit him another game (a nice break for the Hornets and power forward Marvin Williams, who would have primarily guarded him.)
▪ Howard expressed some concern with the team’s mentality in games: Hanging their heads sometimes in a defeatist manner.
▪ Saturday’s 93-91 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers was the 13th consecutive time the Hornets lost a game decided by three points or less. Asked about that trend, point guard Kemba Walker said he hasn’t been making big shots at the rate he has in the past.
▪ Kaminsky’s 6-of-6 from the field in the first half was quite a turnaround: He shot a combined 4-of-18 in his previous two games.
▪ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has found a way to be steady offensively, whether or not he ever develops more shooting range: This was his fifth time in seven games scoring in double figures, and he scored nine in each of the other two.
▪ Hornets forward Treveon Graham missed this game with back spasms.
▪ The Knicks injuries were well illustrated by the bench points in the first half: Hornets 27-to-12.
▪ The Knicks’ last victory in Charlotte was November 2013.
A OFFENSE: Life gets so easy when a team makes its 3s. Over the first three quarters, the Hornets hit eight of 15.
B DEFENSE: The Knicks made just two of their first 14 3s, and minus Porzingis, didn’t have the size to compensate.
B+ COACHING: Stephen Silas stuck by his conviction to shorten the playing rotation, and that was the right call Monday.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell