The Charlotte Hornets (1-2) put forth a strong effort in the Big Apple but it wasn’t enough as they fell, 93-96, to the New York Knicks (2-1) on Sunday night.
The Knicks came out hot in the first quarter, leading by as much as 10 points en route to a 29-21 lead over the Hornets after one quarter of action. In the second quarter, Al Jefferson came alive and Gary Neal sparked the offense off the bench and the Hornets went on a 20-7 run to go into the half with a 50-52 deficit.
The action continued into the third quarter and the teams frequently exchanged the lead on the way to a 80-79 Hornets lead entering the final period. The Hornets had their chances in the fourth quarter as scrappy buckets by Neal and Walker put them up by three, but the Knicks struck back and Charlotte continually shot themselves in the foot, coughing up the ball six times in the fourth quarter alone.
A questionable five-second inbounds violation with 36.6 seconds left gave the Knicks the ball but Iman Shumpert missed a jumper, giving the Hornets possession with 16.6 seconds left and a two-point deficit. Walker missed a short jumper in the lane in the closing seconds and Charlotte was forced to foul Anthony, who hit one of two free throws to give New York the win; Lance Stephenson missed a desperation catch and heave with 0.8 seconds left.
Jefferson led the Hornets in scoring with 21 points and Walker had 16 points and three rebounds.
Stephenson had his best game yet in a Hornets uniform, stuffing the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Neal was key in keeping the Hornets in the game offensively as he led the reserves with 17 points and three assists on 3-3 shooting from long range. Reserve big man Cody Zeller contributed six points, five rebounds and three assists .
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the game after a collision in the first half and was taken to an area hospital and was later diagnosed with a rib contusion; he had six points and three rebounds before the injury.
Anthony paced the Knicks with a game high 28 points and Shumpert had 15 points and four rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to New Orleans to face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.