Hornets Buzz Knicks w 3-Pointers: Nov 17, 2019: Charlotte 103 NY 102

The Knicks lost this game not only for themselves, but for traditional NBA basketball. As Gregg Popovich said last year, the NBA has become boring; it used to be you’d check the boxscore after the game to see Time of Possession, Rebounds, etc — now you just look at who shot better from the 3-point line.

Charlotte the Epitome of SHOOT THE 3 Basketball

The Charlotte Hornets have become the epitome of modern NBA basketball. They shoot 3 after 3 after 3 after 3. Just the night before, Charlotte beat Detroit on a 3 at the buzzer. In this game they were 17-48 from 3, taking more shots than they did from 2 — where they were 19-39.

Teams today can lose a game if just one guy on the other team gets red hot from 3. This has happened to the Knicks a lot this year — Coby White for example just the other day. And so it was in this game, when Devonte’ Graham shot 9-16 including blistering 3-point shooting in the 4th quarter, and the game winner with 2 seconds left.

Knicks With a Traditional Attack

New York played the traditional NBA game, interweaving the 3 into their mostly regular-field-goal attack (Knicks were 6-20 from 3, and 33-67 from 2). NY outplayed Charlotte in the 1st half and held a 15-point lead in the 3rd when Charlotte tightened their defense and came back with a 3-point assault. Graham hit a 3 at the start of the 4th to give Charlotte a 2-pt lead but the Knicks fought back and asserted themselves as apparently the better team by regaining an 8-pt lead with 6 minutes left on a Mitchell Robinson slam.

The Stretch Run

Two consecutive bad shots by Marcus Morris allowed Charlotte to get to within 88-86 with 4:45 left.

The Knicks and Charlotte battled back and forth in the last few minutes; matching each other with big bucket after big bucket; RJ Barrett and Julius Randle took over the offense for the Knicks;  PJ Washington, Terry Rozier, and Graham did the damage for Charlotte. New York held a 4-point lead with 48 seconds left after Julius Randle made a floating jumper from 11 feet out — his second field goal in a row (he’d made a scintillating dunk on the previous possession).

The Final Seconds

But alas Randle missed a floater in the lane and a chance to ice the game with 12 seconds left and New York up 102-100, giving Charlotte a chance. They ran a “James Harden running-start-3″ play for Graham, who faked going around a screen by Mitchell Robinson‘s man, PJ Washington, causing Ntilikina to bounce into that screen and be a second late in getting back on Graham who nailed a 3 from 30 feet straightaway.

With 2 seconds left the Knicks ran an iso play for Julius Randle, and, double teamed, he missed a floater from 18 feet straightaway.

The Blame

Knicks Twitter exploded on Fizdale for calling that play — which was not a smooth play — and also for inexplicably bringing Wayne Ellington (who had not played a second in this game and would be ice cold) into the game for the final play, leaving RJ Barrett (who had been making big buckets down the stretch) on the bench.

In retrospect:

  • Randle had been making big shots down the stretch for the Knicks,
  • Marcus Morris had made two bad shots a few minutes earlier,
  • RJ Barrett had been making big shots down the stretch, but if he got the ball Charlotte may have played him Hard not caring if they fouled him, since he’s had so much trouble on the line. Fizdale may have been keeping Barrett away from a situation where he went to the line with the game on the line (although Barrett had hit his two previous free throws in that quarter and was 4-5 from the free throw line in the game).
  • Since the play was being run for Randle, maybe Fizdale felt Ellington on the court would ‘spread the floor’ since he is a dangerous open shooter. Hard to defend this though, since Charlotte might have considered Ellington a cold man off the bench and cheated off him, vs Barrett who was hot.

Sleep Well

It was a tough loss but Knicks fans can sleep well that:

  • Frank Ntilikina played well on offense and defense again. Only 6 points (2-7) but he played with verve on the offensive end in the 4th — penetrating and hitting jumpers or dishing for some beautiful assists. On Knick Twitter, there is something called “Ntilikina Island” — a place where fans of Ntilikina felt isolated in the last year or so. The word is that the price of real estate on “Ntilikina Island” has gone up tremendously in value. People are now flipping their condos there.

  • RJ Barrett (22 pts on 8-16 (2-4 from 3) and 4-5 from free throw line) played big time ball down the stretch and finished with 22 points on 8-16. In the previous game he didn’t do much offensively down the stretch so this was a good sign.

  • Mitchell Robinson (17 pts on 6-8 (5-7 on free throws), 12 rebounds, 1 block in 27 min) was a beast until stepping on someone’s foot and spraining his ankle late in the 4th. Even with the sprain, he came up court and alley oop slam dunked a score. After a timeout, he stayed in the game, and scored another bucket but was not on the court on the final play. He continues to hit his free throws with a very smooth assuredness.

  • Taj Gibson (9 pts in 21 min) played well.
  • Despite the two consecutive bad shots midway through the 4th, Marcus Morris (14 pts on 5-10) played well.
  • The Knicks overall played well in this game as the individual performances attest — they just got beat by the 3.


  • Dennis Smith Jr got 3 quick fouls in the 1st quarter and only had 2 pts on 1-3 in 10 minutes.
  • Kevin Knox (2 pts on 1-6, 0-3 from 3) shot poorly.
  • Damyean Dotson got 23 minutes and 4 pts (4-6).

The Boxscore



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