Robinson, Brunson & DiVincenzo Lead Knicks. NY 122 Charlotte 108

Mitchell Robinson was a Rock on the boards and the defensive end, and Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo lit up the scoreboard with 32 pts and 25 pts respectively — as the Knicks led by 10 to 15 points most of the night in beating the Hornets in Charlotte on a Saturday night, 122-108.

Brunson scored 26 points in the 1st half, and DiVincenzo did most of his scoring in the 2nd half — finishing with 7 three-pointers made. Robinson ripped down 14 rebounds — 11 on the offensive glass giving the Knicks 2nd opportunities all night. Julius Randle bullied his way to 21 points and RJ Barrett, back after missing 3 games due to a migraine headache — scored 15.

The Knicks had tremendous ball movement on offense all night, and threatened to blow Charlotte out numerous times, but Charlotte kept hanging in on the sharpshooting of LaMelo Ball and rookie Brandon Miller, who was the #2 pick in last June’s draft.

“Overall I think the unselfishness offensively has been terrific,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “I thought we played great defense in the 1st quarter. And that’s the challenge we have to make sure we’re playing defense for 48 minutes. The rebounding was terrific. The playmaking was really good; low turnovers. That team presents problems because offensively they’re a lot to deal with. They can spread you out; they can play small at center. Puts pressure on you. I think our big guys really did a good job with their communication.”

NY improves to 8-5; Charlotte drops to 3-9.

1. Knicks Jump Out to Double-Digit Lead

The Knicks jumped out to a double-digit lead in the 1st quarter to take control of the game, and maintained that control throughout. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson took it to the Hornets at the outset — Randle powering inside for buckets and Brunson scoring on 3’s and floaters. RJ Barrett was back and immediately added to the offense with a drive and free throws.

A Randle 3 with 6:50 left in the quarter put NY up 20-9. Charlotte timeout.

NY led 30-19 at the end of 1.

In the 2nd quarter Brunson took the scoring lead, with DiVincenzo hitting 3’s — NY maintaining it’s 10-pt lead throughout to lead 61-50 at the half.

2. Robinson Monster Inside

But NY could not shake Charlotte, who kept hanging in and threatening on the 3-pt shooting of LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller, and the inside scoring of Miles Bridges, who is just back from suspension due to a domestic incident.

Throughout the game, Mitchell Robinson kept ripping down offensive rebounds, giving the Knicks second opportunities.

“He really had a great year last year and people didn’t recognize how well he played,” said Thibs of Robinson. “I think this year he’s gone to another level. The growth has been great. He’s critical to our team. We see the offensive rebounding; but what we don’t see is the pick-and-roll defense, rim protection, multiple-effort plays, the communication, and the extra possessions are huge — it makes us well balanced; we’re shooting the 3 really well right now.”

When Mitchell Robinson wasn’t on the court, Isaiah Hartenstein was — and he also owned the inside — with rebounding, interior defense, and hustle plays. And then Josh Hart too was making hustle plays and blocks on fastbreaks.

3. DiVincenzo Lights It Up from 3

Dante DiVincenzo gave the Knicks another shooter to answer the torrid shooting of Ball and Miller. DiVincenzo hit three 3’s in the 3rd, and two more 3’s in the 4th — all at key moments. His Defense was frenetic as usual, and his ball movement and movement off the ball, exceptional.

“Big time game from Donte DiVincenzo,” said NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “He put himself in position to succeed and got great looks with his understanding how to move without the ball, use of screens, catching the ball squared and shot the ball with confidence. Also, always gets into you defensively and flat-out competes.”

4. Knicks Had Answer in 4th

NY entered the 4th up 89-80, and immediately pushed it to 14 at 94-80  on a Josh Hart 3 and 2 free throws by Barrett.

But again Charlotte would not go away — a LaMello Ball 3, a JT Thor layup, and another LaMello Ball 3 put Charlotte 6 behind with 9:37 left.

But the Knicks tightened their defense and pushed the lead back up to 15 on a Quickley drive, RJ Barrett 3, Barrett bully move inside, and Hartenstein bucket. NY  103 Charlotte 88 with 7:32 left.

DiVincenzo hit two 3’s in the final 5 minutes to answer any scores Charlotte made in last efforts to come back.

5. Barrett Feeling Better

After hitting his first shot of the game, Barrett had a rusty 1st half but shot better in the 2nd half, getting 12 of his 15 points. He finished with a +16.

“It was pretty bad; pretty rough for a couple days there,” said Barrett of his illness. “I didn’t really feel too good but now I’m feeling better so I’m playing.”

With Quentin Grimes still out with a sprained hand, Miles McBride got action and played his usual tremendous on-ball defense, and added to the scoring with 5 pts in 9 minutes including a 3.

The Boxscore


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