Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets find a sure way to win on road, get back to .500: Play the Knicks

Charlotte Hornets coach on young players

Is it best to let young NBA players play through mistakes or sit and watch to correct mistakes? Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego answered.
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Is it best to let young NBA players play through mistakes or sit and watch to correct mistakes? Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego answered.

The Charlotte Hornets’ road record against the worst in the Eastern Conference was gruesome; you can’t lose in Chicago, Cleveland and Atlanta this season, and then afford to take any opponent for granted.

So Sunday was a refreshing change against the New York Knicks. The Hornets never trailed, leading by as much as 28 in a 119-107 victory over the 8-20 Knicks.

The Hornets won their second in a row to improve to 13-13, just their fourth road victory in 12 games away from Spectrum Center. Three of those four road wins were blowouts, in New York, Detroit and Orlando, Fla.

New York native Kemba Walker had another great game at Madison Square Garden, finishing with 25 points, six assists and six rebounds. Jeremy Lamb added 19 points and Tony Parker came off the bench for 16.

Knicks rookie Kevin Knox, playing off the bench, matched his career high with 26 points, making four 3-pointers, and added 15 rebounds.

Three who mattered

Kemba Walker: He took control of this game with a 14-point second quarter.

Jeremy Lamb: Does he belong in the discussion for NBA Most Improved Player?

Frank Ntilikina: French guard for the Knicks scored a career-high 18 points off the bench.


Sunday NBA games typically start at 6 p.m. local time, but Hornets-Knicks was a 7:30 tipoff, probably because the Knicks had a home game Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

Hornets coach James Borrego recalled pre-game telling Walker that Tony Parker planned to sign with the Hornets. Rather than ask about distribution of roles, Walker’s only reaction, Borrego said, was “I get to learn from him.”

Hornets center Cody Zeller made all five of his first-half shots. It helped that he was matched against Enes Kanter, who has never been known for his defense.

Knicks coach David Fizdale was ejected with back-to-back technical fouls with 8 1/2 minutes left and New York trailing by 21.

Hornets reserve center Willy Hernangomez drew a crowd of NY media pre-game. He requested and received a trade off the Knicks last winter, which got him to Charlotte. “I think maybe I wasn’t part of the future up here. anymore.,” Hernangomez said of his limited playing time last season. “I think I made the right choice getting to Charlotte. I feel really at home there.”

Worth mentioning

Hornets guard-forward Dwayne Bacon played with the team’s G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, Saturday. The Hornets recalled Bacon from G-League assignment Sunday, but he wasn’t able to get to New York for the game.

The Hornets wore their white pinstripes-and-pleats classic uniforms Sunday.

Former Hornets lottery pick Noah Vonleh is a Knicks starter at power forward. The Knicks signed Vonleh over the summer a one-year, $1.6 million contract that was only partially guaranteed.. Vonleh is on his fourth NBA team, having also played for Portland (part of the trade for Batum) and Chicago.

They said it

“I think he’s top-five at his position” – Fizdale on Walker.

“If you ever have a son, you want your son to be this guy.” – Fizdale on Hornets coach James Borrego, whom he coached, then coached with, in San Diego.

“I miss K.P. Now my job is maybe try to get him to the Hornets.” – Hernangomez on close friend and Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis.

Report card

A OFFENSE: If you make 50 percent of your 3s, as Hornets did Sunday, it’s hard to lose.

A DEFENSE: Kept the Knicks from scoring big in the lane, which has been an off-and-on problem this season.

A COACHING: Broke a pattern of the Hornets playing down to bad Eastern Conference teams on the road.