Kaminsky leads Hornets’ rout of Knicks
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Hornets are struggling so much lately that any win under any circumstance is considered a good win.
So, there was some excitement and some relief as the Hornets rolled to an easy 109-91 victory over the short-handed New York Knicks on Monday night at the Spectrum Center.
Charlotte started quickly, led by as many as 25 points in the first half, and then coasted from there as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Hornets (11-19) had lost 10 of their previous 12. They were coming off back-to-back losses over the weekend to the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers in which they came back from huge deficits only to lose tight games at the end.
“Obviously that was a good win, a feel-good win,” Charlotte associate head coach Stephen Silas said. “I felt like the last couple games, at the end we showed what we can do as far as fighting and moving the ball. Those two fourth quarters we got down but we fought back. So tonight, my message to the guys was don’t wait for us to be all the way down right from the start. And we did it tonight.
“The things I wanted to get across to the guys today, they did, and so I’m proud of them.”
Frank Kaminsky came off the bench to lead the Hornets with 24 points, matching a season high. The Hornets also got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 12 points from Marvin Williams, and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Dwight Howard.
The Hornets shot 48.9 percent from the field, were 9 of 20 from 3-point range, owned a 35-27 rebound advantage and didn’t allow the Knicks a single second-chance point all night.
“One of the things I talked to the guys about before the game was getting out in transition a little bit,” Silas said. “I think the last two games we had five total fast-break points combined, and tonight we ended up with 15. So, we were playing with a little bit better pace, and our defensive effort was really good.
“They were missing two of their main guys but it was about us tonight and about our ability to help each other on offense with 30 assists and helping each other on defense by only allowing one shot.”
The Hornets led 29-23 after one quarter, 60-42 at halftime, and 88-64 after three quarters. Their biggest lead was 27.
Kaminsky was particularly outstanding. He hit his first eight shots from the field and finished 10 of 13 from the field, with 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He had gone 1 of 7 from the field on Saturday night against Portland.
“When you build yourself such a big lead, then you get to play freer,” Kaminsky said. “Things that normally don’t go well when the game is tied, close game, you hang your head. We weren’t doing that tonight. We built ourselves a lead, played loose, shot the shots we normally take, and everyone was just into it. When we play like that, we’re a tough team to beat.”
New York (16-14) had a four-game winning streak snapped.
The Knicks were without leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis for the second straight game because of a sore left knee. They also continue to be without Tim Hardaway Jr., who has now missed nine games with a stress injury in his lower leg. Porzingis is currently eighth in the NBA in scoring at 25.5 points-per-game.
“Our guys kept playing, and kept playing hard,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “But without KP and Tim, we struggled shooting the ball obviously. We were 3 of 18 from the 3-point line.”
Michael Beasley led the Knicks with 23 points. Jarrett Jack scored 12 and Enes Kanter 11. The Knicks shot just 41.9 percent from the field.
“We just had a rough night shooting the basketball,” Jack said. “Not to take anything away from them, they came out and played hard. They came out and established themselves early, established the style and the pace of the game, and from that point we weren’t able to recover.”
NOTES: The Hornets have now beaten the Knicks seven straight times in Charlotte. ... The Knicks won the only previous game between the teams this season, 118-113 in New York on Nov. 7. The teams will play two more times in March. ... The Hornets were without F Cody Zeller (left knee surgery) and F Treveon Graham (back spasms). ... The Hornets are now 3-6 since coach Steve Clifford left the team to deal with an unspecified health issue. There is still no time frame on Clifford’s return. ... The Hornets were playing the third game of a four-game home stand. They will close out the home stand on Wednesday against Toronto. ... The Knicks will return home to face Boston on Thursday.