Slow start proves costly for Knicks

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Steve Reed

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’s com­ments

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.

Up next

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.

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