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Hornets 76, Knicks 71

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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night in Charlotte, the Knicks played the sort of 98 percent basketball we've come to expect from them for portions of this season. Absent Carmelo Anthony, New York stayed in stride with the sluggish Hornets, then played with little regard for the score right through the final seconds, when they bowed to offer Charlotte turnovers and fouls.

Along the way, several young or transient Knick participants got extended run and hit their shots, too. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the team with 25, canning early threes then staying in touch with some quick pull-ups. Lance Thomas just kept finding his angles in the mid-range, even if he had to spin or scoot or break six federal, four municipal, and three maritime laws to get there.

It's much more fun when they do it against a competent team, but this is the sort of product I like to see these Knicks forge -- ample minutes for players with something to prove, sufficient proving opportunities within organized schemes, and almost enough production. Exactly almost. Some notes:

- These Knicks are rough! The twin towers of Lou Amundson and Jason Smith knock guys whenever they can. They both put several solid, fair fouls on penetrating Hornets, including consecutive plays in which they meatraked Cody Zeller around the rim.

- Smith also lost control of the ball, realized he couldn't pick it back up without a violation, and so thrusted his ass to box out Marvin Williams, who may have been seriously hurt running into the ass-thrust.

- Amar'e Stoudemire failed to find a scoring rhythm, then turned an ankle (and a wrist?). I'm surprised more people don't turn ankles battling with Al Jefferson on either end of the floor. He thrives on feints, leans, and nudges and just spends so much time in that off-balance realm that it's easy to get hurt tracking him.

- Guys who'd fallen out of the rotation of late came back: Quincy Acy, Cole Aldrich, and Pablo Prigioni all played, none making much of an impact on the game save for Cole's ballet of wayward hooks. He looks at times like he's moving submerged up to his waist, like he's balling on a pool hoop. 3 feet of water would explain the need to jump for every pass!

- Cole gobbled boards, though, and not just the free grabs that come often in a game like this one. Even when nothing else is working, he'll box out and reach for caroms off either rim, hollering all the while.

- "That's what you call percolating personified." - Walt Frazier after Lance Stephenson drove and spun for an impressive lay-in. If we're keeping score, Clyde, I'm pretty sure that's what *you* call that.

- I shout commands at my TV when I watch the Knicks. It's an unseemly habit, but I've noticed more and more that Langston Galloway is directing his teammates to do what I'm saying on my couch, which means one of two things:

1. Galloway and I have similar ideas about how the Knicks should be playing (which may or may not reflect well on Langston) or

2. Langston Galloway is my avatar, controlled by my voice.

I'm screaming "GET A TATTOO OF SECRET SQUIRREL ON YOUR FOREHEAD" right now, so we'll see what happens. Either way, it's cool to see a young player comfortable directing traffic. We know he knows his sets!

- Pablo's just not gonna shoot the ball.

- This screen, cut, and read by Galloway and Amundson are just extremely good shit:

I'm kissing my fingertips. That's fantastic.

- To an extent, the absence of Melo closes up some open threes, but I'm still certain the Knicks could be generating more threes. If Thomas, Galloway, Smith, Travis Wear...Acy...Larkin...so many of these guys feel even close to as comfortable a step behind the arc as they do a step in front of him, that is a readily available and preferable look. If you're looking looking for a loss, though, 20-footers are the ticket.

- Galloway really uses his arms to his advantage. His reach allows him to make surprising bids on loose and lobbed balls, often from a standstill.

These have been my notes. I hope you have a pleasant evening. The next Knicks game is Monday at home against the Kings.