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Knicks 110, Hornets 107: ‘Horny better keep that bow tie’

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Courtney Lee was the best player on the court as the Knicks stifled Charlotte in the fourth.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A stagnant, desperate New York Knicks offense, unable to score for a three-minute stretch of the fourth, put the ball in the hands of its top guard. And Courtney Lee wouldn’t be denied, scoring nine straight points, including a cold-blooded go-ahead three with 1:39 remaining. He also helped spearhead a stifling Knick defense — I kid you not — shutting down Nicolas Batum, grabbing steal after steal until finally he literally ran over a stumbling Kemba Walker in transition before kicking the ball out to Brandon Jennings for a corner three.

It was arguably the most dominant fourth-quarter performance of the season for New York, particularly when you factor in what Lee did on both ends of the court. And I couldn’t find a single clip of it on YouTube or Twitter. That’s a damn shame. I guess Lee will just have to settle for the win.

Notes:

— Rough shooting night for Carmelo Anthony, whose string of 30-point games came to an end as he finished with 18 points on 8-26 shooting. The fickle nature of the MSG crowd bore down on Melo during that the particularly brutal three-minute dry spell in the fourth, as they showered their best player with boos after every missed shot. It was fucking pathetic, considering all that is going on with Melo right now. Dude has done his best to carry the team recently while Phil Jackson tries everything in his power to push Melo out of New York. Melo got the last laugh, though, as he put the game away with a clutch bucket with 13 seconds left. He didn’t appear to want the cheers which suddenly came rushing back, and I don’t blame him. Fans that boo Melo deserve a return of Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford.

— Melo’s response after the game was particularly pained. Keep in mind, this was like 30 minutes following a win. Per Marc Berman:

“Yeah, [being] Melo, you got to be cut from a different cloth to deal with this day and night, all day long, every day, take the good with the bad. I don’t know how I do it. But I do it.”

#StayMe7o. God, the Knicks are a depressing organization.

— Kyle O’Quinn had his semi-monthly good game, as he entered the game in the third quarter in place of a struggling Willy Hernangomez. (Willy’s struggles were somewhat exaggerated: he did contribute 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 15 minutes). KOQ hit his first three-pointer of the season on his way to 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Those blocks were his finest contributions of the evening, as he swallowed up Kemba Walker a few times when the lil’ All-Star seemed unstoppable. He nailed a cold-blooded free throw in the final seconds after he was fouled during the Melo bucket. It’s games like these that make the bad KOQ games extra frustrating.

— Kristaps Porzingis scored 10 points in the first couple minutes of the game, rocked two of the most raucous dunks of the season in the second quarter — I was eating Chinese New Year dinner with my wife and mother-and-law and startled the room by screaming out in ecstasy at the first dunk — and somehow managed only one shot in the second half. It was a big shot, though — a foul-line jumper in the final minute, just before he fouled out on a questionable call. It’s been a rough month for our boy, but it’s nice to see that the fire is still in his belly.

— Derrick Rose twisted his ankle stepping on Walker’s foot in the third quarter. He did not return.

— Most surprising key to the game: Brandon Jennings’ defense on Walker. I’m serious. New York’s backup point guard — given extra playing time in Rose’s absence — hounded Walker all over the court. Walker shot 2-7 in the fourth. The entire Knick D stepped up big-time, but Jennings deserves special consideration given the difficulty of his task and the fact that he is normally straight-up dookie on the defensive end.

— New York’s bench manhandled the Hornets’ second unit. Fun fact: Every one of the bench bros who played Friday — Jennings, Willy, KOQ, Mindaugas Kuzminksas, Justin Holiday — had at least 2 assists. Sharing is caring, as the man said.

— Head coach Jeff Hornacek sported a bow tie, as did many other NBA coach, in honor of the late Michael Goldberg, former leader of the NBA coaches’ association. As P&T’er Kaisersoser37 noted, it is now a moral imperative that he keep wearing bow ties.

The Knicks now head out on a three-game road trip. They’ve been better away from MSG of late — given the hostility surrounding this organization right now, who can blame them? — and one of those games will be at Brooklyn. Who knows, maybe they can go 2-1!