CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 32 points, Donte DiVincenzo added 28 and the New York Knicks kept rolling even without the injured Julius Randle, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 113-92 Monday night for their seventh straight victory.
Josh Hart chipped in with 12 rebounds, eight points, and seven assists for the Knicks (30-17), who entered with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Miller scored 29 points and Miles Bridges had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Hornets (10-35) fell to 0-4 since trading Terry Rozier to Miami for Kyle Lowry and a first-round draft pick. Lowry hasn’t played for Charlotte, which is seeking to trade him or buy out his contract.
Randle missed his first game since dislocating his right shoulder on Saturday night against the Heat. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau offered no update on Randle before the game, saying the reliable forward is continuing to undergo testing.
“It’s definitely a plus when you can win on the road no matter who is on the court,” Brunson said. “Obviously we are going to miss him, but we have to continue to find ways to get better every single day no matter who is out there, no matter who we are playing. Just have that mindset every single day.”
The Knicks were also missing OG Anunoby (elbow inflammation), Evan Fournier (personal reasons) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle surgery). The Hornets were without starters LaMelo Ball (ankle soreness), Gordon Hayward (calf strain) and Mark Williams (lower back).
New York led by three at the break but made 8 of 10 3-pointers to start the second half after making just 4 of 21 in the opening half.
Brunson scored 15 points in the third quarter and DiVincenzo added 12 as the Knicks built a 25-point lead.
Brunson was serenaded with chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the pro-Knicks crowd at the Spectrum Center, and the fans roared when DiVincenzo knocked down a 3, pumping their fists to a chorus of “Let’s go Knicks!”
Charlotte’s Cody Martin said it’s difficult defending Brunson.
“He’s a tough cover, man,” Martin said. “He’s really mastered his footwork. When he gets into the paint, not only can he score the ball but he’s a floor general. He knows the reads, he knows what to look for and he makes his team better. It allows his whole team to play with a lot of confidence.”
DiVincenzo finished 5 of 15 from beyond the arc — and Thibodeau said he wants him to keep shooting.
“We need that, we obviously need the volume 3s,” Thibodeau said.
The Knicks pushed their lead to 29 early in the fourth quarter with Miles McBride knocking down two 3s off assists from Josh Hart.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford was ejected in the fourth quarter for arguing a call.
With his team down by 25, Clifford became irate after Miller drove the lane and scored on a floater while taking an elbow to the face from Jericho Sims, causing him to fall to the hardwood holding his head. No foul was called.
Clifford walked toward crew chief Sean Wright while pointing his finger and had to be restrained before being escorted off the floor.
“He got hit in the face. To me, they’ve got to see that,” Clifford said. “Again, you don’t want to get kicked out of the game. That doesn’t help anything. Handling frustration is a big part of this league even when you’re a really good team, and in a situation like this, it’s critical that we all do it. That starts with me, so I can’t be doing that.”