The New York Knicks face the Charlotte Hornets in a rematch Tuesday night, seeking redemption after a controversial call regarding what would have been a three-point buzzer beater by rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
The rookie tweeted out after the game: "Tough loss..shot I always dreamt of making. Sucks.. but gotta stay positive."
In the 95-93 heartbreaker, Porzingis recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. The Knicks saw a high-level of play from several players, including Arron Afflalo, who scored 12 points and grabbed six boards in his Knicks debut since injuring his hamstring before preseason. Carmelo Anthony led the team with 29 points on 12-for-25 shooting, and Jose Calderon shot over 65 percent putting up 13 points, though he continues to receive major criticism for a lack of defensive prowess in one of the worst backcourts of the league. Needless to say, it desperately yearned for Afflalo's return.
Despite out-rebounding Charlotte 52-33, the Knicks were unable to maintain an early fourth quarter lead as was seen again in the following loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many continue to blame Derek Fisher for the Knicks fourth quarter woes, as he appears to struggle making the necessary adjustments and finding the right unit to close out games.
"I have to do a better job of putting guys in position to be successful out there," Fisher said. "They're doing what we're asking them to do."
Hornets forward Nicolas Batum led the team with 29 points, and continued his hot shooting streak against the Portland Trailblazers, scoring 33 points on 11-for-19 shooting in the Hornets' 106-94 victory. In the wake of the Paris attacks, both France-natives Batum and the Knicks' Kevin Serpahin had huge games, exhibiting a commendable mental toughness. In the Knicks 95-87 win over New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, Seraphin exerted his will over the Pelicans, quickly scoring 12 points in just 14 minutes on 6-for-8 shooting. After the game, teammate Carmelo Anthony said, "To see him, and what he's dealing with emotionally and mentally, be prepared today when his number was called was big."
Seraphin is the player to watch Tuesday night, granted Fisher uses him accordingly. The forward undoubtedly earned his minutes and his scoring prowess along with offensive rebounding ability will be needed to hold the Hornets off.
The Knicks were able to hold Al Jefferson to just four points in their first meeting, but he too is coming off an incredible performance against Portland, recording 29 points in 30 minutes. The Knicks will need to find a way to stop this Charlotte offense in order to come away with a win.
Charlotte looks to extend their record over the Knicks to 5-0, while the Knicks look to even things out and improve to 6-6.