If the Knicks wanted to flip the script of their season struggles against teams that are statistically better than them, they certainly didn’t do that on Monday afternoon.
New York (22-22) was blown out by the Charlotte Hornets (24-21) 97-87 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Madison Square Garden, dropping their record against teams currently over .500 to 1-13 on the season. Their three-game win streak and five-game home win streak also came to an end.
Miles Bridges ripped apart the Knicks for a career-high 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting — which included 22 in the first quarter alone to put the Hornets well on their way — to go with 12 rebounds. He received support from former Knicks trade target and Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, who picked up the slack of his side missing star youngster LaMelo Ball (illness) with 22 points of his own.
The Hornets led by double-digits for the final 30 minutes of the game before a garbage-time 16-6 run from the Knicks salvaged the scoreline.
As usual, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle led the Knicks’ offensive effort double-doubles headlined by 18 points apiece (Barrett had 12 rebounds, Randle 10). But New York as a team shot just 40.5% from the field while committing 15 turnovers.
Bridges ripped open the Knicks for 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first quarter alone. He headlined a Hornets effort that saw them shoot 61.1% from the field in the opening 12 minutes to take an early 12-point lead.
The Knicks responded with a 7-0 run to start the second quarter to cut their deficit to four, featuring five-straight points from Obi Toppin behind a corner three-pointer and a thunderous alley-oop.
"𝐐𝐔𝐈𝐂𝐊𝐋𝐄𝐘 𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐎𝐖𝐒 𝐈𝐓 𝐔𝐏, 𝐓𝐎𝐏𝐏𝐈𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐎𝐖𝐒 𝐈𝐓 𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍!"
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 17, 2022
But the Hornets responded with gusto, outscoring the Knicks 28-14 in the final 9:25 to take a commanding 18-point lead heading into halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Charlotte’s lead ballooned to 20, at 76-56 as Knicks frustrations boiled with officiating. In just under three minutes, New York was called for five fouls, including two offensive infractions on Randle and Barrett that led to Thibodeau barking at the officials.
Bridges’ 29th and 30th points of the night came in style, throwing up a ball he was losing control of while driving to the hoop before catching it in mid-air and placing it in the basket all in one motion.
He nailed his fourth three-pointer of the night just 1:10 later, with 1:07 to go in the third, to put the Hornets up 23 — which was their largest lead of the night — before tying his career-high in highlight-worthy fashion:
Miles Bridges with his best bucket yet on a career high-tying 35-point day! pic.twitter.com/YDJpPkyPnn
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2022
The only drama that came from Monday night’s affair was whether or not Bridges would eclipse his previous career-high of 35 points. The Hornets opted to keep him out there despite the game being well in hand to set a new record — which he did with a corner three-pointer with 3:17 to go.