Slow start proves costly for Knicks
It felt like those old college days for Jeremy Lamb.
Starting in the same backcourt as Kemba Walker for the first time since Connecticut beat Butler in the 2011 NCAA championship game, Lamb turned in one of his best games since joining the NBA.
Walker scored 28 points, Lamb added 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds and the Charlotte Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 107-102 victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.
“It’s always good to play with Kemba,” Lamb said. “He’s a great leader and carried us tonight. We definitely needed that win tonight.”
Lamb got the first start since joining the Hornets last season because Nicolas Batum was out with an eye injury. He made the most of the opportunity, joining Russell Westbrook as the only guards this season with at least 15 rebounds in a game.
Lamb had missed 10 games this season dealing with a hamstring injury, which coach Steve Clifford said made his performance all the more remarkable.
“He literally hasn’t done anything with contact for close to a month,” Clifford said. “His game is based on skill. He’s a skill-based player and he showed that tonight. He’s always been a good offensive rebounder. Tonight he was both.”
Walker called Lamb’s effort “incredible.”
“We needed rebounding bad and the bigs did a great job of boxing their man out and he came out of nowhere to snatch every rebound,” Walker said. “He played awesome.”
The Hornets (9-7) avenged an overtime loss to the Knicks on Friday night at Madison Square Garden in which Carmelo Anthony hit the go-ahead jumper with 3.1 seconds left and finished with 35 points.
Anthony didn’t fare as well the second time around, limited to 18 points on 7-of-24 shooting. Kristaps Porzingis had 25 points and Derrick Rose added 18 points, eight assists and eight rebounds for the Knicks.
The Knicks battled back from a 21-point, first-half deficit to take the lead briefly with 7:36 left in the game when Anthony drilled a turnaround jumper from the baseline.
But the Hornets regained control behind Walker, who made an underhand layup and two free throws to put the Hornets up 105-99 with 21 seconds left. Justin Holiday’s 3-pointer cut the lead to three with 11.2 seconds left, but Lamb made two free throws to help seal the game.
“We have to get off to better starts,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “That start, I think they had 24 points in the first six and a half minutes of the game. That’s kind of probably where the game was lost right there. We battled back, but it takes a lot of energy.” TIP-INS Knicks: Porzingis has tallied 20-plus points in nine contests this season . ... Joakim Noah was held without a point in 13 minutes of action.
Hornets: Forward Marvin Williams is expected to miss about a week after an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his left knee . ... Walker recorded his 13th game with 20-plus points this season . ... Marco Belinelli’s minutes were limited by a hamstring injury.
Clifford ripped into his players during a pregame press conference for a lack of hustle and his team seemed to get the message.
“Coach just really pushes us because he has high expectations for us,” Lamb said. “He just told (us) we’re better than how we’re playing and that if we played together and played like a team that nobody could beat us.”
Shoot the ball
Hornacek was pleased that Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee shot the ball more.
“We’re trying to encourage them, ‘Hey, when you have the open shot, shoot it,”’ Hornacek said. “Both of them I think took a step forward at least with that tonight.”
Frank the tank
Frank Kaminsky added 14 points, including two clutch 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter as the Hornets snapped the Knicks’ three-game winning streak.
Point guards up
At one point, the Hornets had three point guards on the floor in Walker, Ramon Sessions and Brian Roberts to combat the Knicks’ small ball lineup.
Knicks: New York returns home to host Oklahoma City tonight.
Hornets: Charlotte heads out on the road to face Memphis tonight, a team it lost to earlier this season at home.