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Knicks 115, Hornets 91: Scenes from Hart getting into rhythm and Randle grabbing boards

Randle scores 25 points and 20 rebounds and Hart scores a season-high to help the Knicks secure an In-Season Tournament quarterfinals appearance.

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Thrice this season, the New York Knicks (10-7) have faced off against the Charlotte Hornets (5-11). Thrice, they beat them. Final score, 115-91.

Tonight was the final game of NBA Cup Group B play. Although the Knicks played the Hornets on the court tonight, they also competed with the Boston Celtics for the In-Season Tournament wild card spot. Before tonight, the Knicks had an 18-point advantage over the Celtics in point differential. Boston did their best to close the gap, beating the Bulls by 27, but the Knicks piled it on in the fourth quarter to secure the WC.

The Knicks had a 66-57 record versus the Hornets all-time. Julius Randle logged 25 points and 20 rebounds, and Josh Hart contributed a season-high 17 points in this, the 67th win. Here’s what happened.

First Quarter

In the first quarter the Knicks opened a 16 point lead, powered by Julius Randle. The oft-maligned power forward scored 11 points in 11 minutes while making three of his six field goal attempts, two of which were triples. While he was at it, he grabbed four boards, tossed a dime, and recorded a steal. If only every team were the Charlotte Hornets.

The score remained close until about midway through the quarter, when the Knicks went on an 11-3 run and demonstrated excellent ball movement. Nevertheless, if the Knicks wanted to pile on the points and increase their odds of securing an In-Season Tournament wild card, they didn’t show it. Only three points were scored over the final three minutes of the quarter, and those went to Charlotte.

The Knicks are never without hightlights, however. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson could connect like this five or six times a game?

The Knicks would close the quarter up 29-16.

Second Quarter

In the second quarter, the Hornets chipped the lead to eight. The Knicks applied a little gas and restored their advantage to 16. Charlotte limped along for almost five minute without a field goal. For as talented as they are, the Knicks never seem to bury their opponent early. They got sloppy in the latter half of the frame, committed too many turnovers, and let the Hornets climbed back to within nine points.

Rookie Hornet Brandon Miller was leading his team with 12 points late in the first half when he needed to limp off the court, injured. The same thing happened last time he visited MSG. Since he was responsible for about a quarter of his team’s points—he averages 14 per game—it sure seemed like the basketball gods were doing everything in their celestial power to hand a win to New York.

At halftime, the Knicks led 53-44. They had shot 44% from the floor to Charlotte’s 39%. Both teams had made seven triples (Hornets, 41%; New York, 37%). The Knicks had turned the ball over eight times, and were barely edging out the Hornets on the glass (25-23). In encouraging news, New York had missed only once in their 13 trips to the charity stripe. Randle was still the team leader, now with 15 points and nine rebounds; Mitchell Robinson had seven boards and four blocks. Very quiet first half for Jalen Brunson (3 points).

Your first-half shot chart:

Third Quarter

Brandon Miller returned and led the hapless Hornets on a 9-3 run to start the quarter. They would cut their deficit all the way down to one point. After the first six minutes, New York had committed three more turnovers and were out-rebounded 9-6. Brunson donned his cape and tallied up 10 points in the quarter. Randle, too, took advantage in the paint again, posting eight points and five rebounds in Q3.

Josh Hart had made news before the game, claiming to not feel like part of the offense. He sang a different tune tonight: through the first three quarters, he had shot 6-of-7 from the field and scored 15 points. He, Immanuel Quickley, and Randle all scored late in the frame, guiding the Knicks on a 14-5 run.

Rough shooting night for RJ Barrett. . . . stats to follow. At least he’s perfect from the foul line.

Fourth Quarter

The Knicks were up 80-66 to begin their final 12 minutes. Thanks to an athletic bucket from Quickley, Donte DiVincenzo’s first points of the game, and slick And-One from RJ Barrett, the lead jumped to 20. Josh Hart scored his 17th point—a season high—and the knicks had hit 90 points with nine and half minutes remaining. They tightened up their defense, they made their shots, they won the game.

Quickley, in particular, had a sterling final frame, finishing with 23 points for the night. The star of the game, however, was Julius Randle. Check the stats below.

Your Starters:

  • Jalen Brunson: 12 points, seven assists, three rebounds, two TO, +20, 5-of-9 FG, 2-of-5 3P, 34 minutes.
  • Quentin Grimes: six points, one apiece for rebounds, assists, and turnovers, 2-of-4 FG, 2-of-3 3P, 19 minutes.
  • R.J. Barrett: 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, 9-of-9 FT, 3-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3P, 28 minutes.
  • Julius Randle: 25 points, 20 boards, five assists, two steals, four TOs, +27, 8-of-15 FG, 2-of-7 3P, 34 minutes.
  • Mitchell Robinson: 10 rebounds, six points, six blocks, +18, 33 minutes.

Up Next

The Detroit Pistons come to town on Thursday. It’s hard to get excited about a Pistons game when we’re still celebrating the Knicks advancing to the NBA Cup quarterfinals. Who knew I’d end up caring so much about this silly gimmick tournament? Well done, Commish, and well done, Knickerbockers.

Box Score