For the first time this season, the New York Knicks are over .500 following a dominating 129-107 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The comprehensive win, which moves them to 5-4 on the season, capped off a 3-0 homestand for the Knicks, which featured wins over the Los Angeles Clippers to spoil James Harden’s debut and a stifling effort to hold down Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs.
Shooting 54% from the field while hitting 15 three-pointers, New York’s 129 points set a new season-high.
The Knicks led by as many as 23 midway through the third quarter behind an 18-5 run, but the Hornets stabilized to keep things relatively interesting, countering with a 14-6 run of their own. But Charlotte turnovers (they committed 12 on Sunday) coupled with silky shooting from RJ Barrett — he led the Knicks with 24 points while hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers — and Julius Randle’s domination in the paint on the way to 23 points allowed the Knicks to run away with the victory.
After a slow start to the season, Randle is heating up as he’s averaged 24.3 points during the homestand. Jalen Brunson added 20 points while Immanuel Quickley provided a 17-point surge off the bench.
The Knicks got off to an 8-for-14 showing in the first half alone, including a 3-of-4 stretch from Quickley, who put up 12 points in 12 minutes off the bench in the first half. While he scored just five more points the rest of the way, he knocked down a four-point play four minutes into the fourth quarter after hitting his fourth three-pointer of the game. It was the Knicks’ first four-point play of the season.
His introduction into the game late in the first quarter supplemented Brunson’s 13 first-quarter points while Randle accounted for 10 in the opening 24 minutes.
The Knicks had five scorers in double digits alone in the first half, headlined by Mitchell Robinson’s 10 points — which was all he’d score on Sunday — and eight rebounds. The center had recorded double-digit scoring outputs just once in his previous eight games this season (6.5 points per game).
A thunderous Barrett dunk with just under four minutes to go in the half opened up a lead of 15 to create some space from the nagging Ball, who was red-hot from the jump for Charlotte by shooting 9-for-13 from the field for 21 points in 18 first-half minutes.
He finished the day with 32 points to lead all scorers.
While New York’s lead grew to as large as 16, a strong Charlotte finish with four quick points in the final minute cut it to 10 at the break.
But two quick Quentin Grimes three-pointers in succession at the start of the second half helped the Knicks regain a commanding advantage, going up 17 with just three minutes gone in the frame.
Less than two minutes later, the lead was 23 amidst a Knicks’ 18-5 run to start the quarter, which featured seven points from Barrett, six from Randle, and five from Brunson. Even after the Hornets’ run cut the advantage to 14, the hosts kept their foot on the gas to take a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter, which was finished off mostly by the second unit.