The first three-day break of the season for the New York Knicks arrived just as they were beginning to round into form.
For the Charlotte Hornets, an opportunity to return to the court after their biggest comeback win of the season offers a chance to build some much-needed momentum.
The Knicks and Hornets will each look to pick up where they left off Sunday afternoon when the teams meet in New York.
The Knicks haven’t played since Wednesday, when they scored the first 13 points of the game and were never seriously threatened in a 126-105 win over the visiting San Antonio Spurs.
The Hornets will be completing a two-game road trip after posting a 124-117 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday in their first game of the NBA’s in-season tournament.
The lopsided win over the Spurs gave the Knicks their first winning streak of the season. It also built on the momentum New York displayed Monday when the host beat the Los Angeles Clippers 111-97 in a game that was tied entering the fourth quarter.
Five players have scored in double figures in each of the last two games for the Knicks.
The Knicks are shooting 46.3 percent (87-of-188) over the last two games, including 42.5 percent (31-of-73) from 3-point range, and have collected 56 assists while committing 22 turnovers. For the season, New York is shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc with 183 assists and 109 turnovers.
“That’s the key — ball movement,” Julius Randle said Wednesday night. “Everybody gets touches. Play off each other. Everybody naturally gets in rhythm, and it always finds you.”
The Hornets began finding a rhythm in the fourth quarter Friday, when they outscored the Wizards 36-20. That includes a run of 25-8 over the final 7:23, when Charlotte made up a 10-point deficit.
“Twenty points we gave up in the fourth?” said Hornets center Mark Williams, who set a career-high with 24 rebounds. “That’s big-time.”
LaMelo Ball began the comeback by hitting a 3-pointer with 7:02 left. He made the next two 3-pointers he attempted and put the Hornets ahead for good at 110-109 by sinking a 24-footer with 4:24 remaining.
The Hornets were 4-of-6 from long range in the fourth after missing 20 of their first 22 shots from 3-point land. Charlotte enters Saturday with the worst 3-point shooting percentage (29.6 percent) in the NBA.
“We’re going to have to figure out the 3-point shooting,” Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said. “(Because) tonight, we got ones that we’ll make eventually, and we did make them late. But as much as anything, it’s just great fourth-quarter play.”
The fourth-quarter comeback was the second in a span of six days for the Hornets, who overcame a pair of six-point deficits in a 125-124 win over the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 4.
–Field Level Media
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