NEW YORK — The MVP chants came for Kristaps Porzingis when he re-entered the game for the final time with 6:27 left against the Charlotte Hornets.
But the real MVP for the New York Knicks on Tuesday night was Doug McDermott.
Porzingis dominated early and late, but it was McDermott and the Knicks’ bench that helped New York come back from a double-digit deficit for the second straight game.
Porzingis scored 28 points and McDermott added a season-high 20 as the Knicks won for the sixth time in seven games, beating the Hornets 118-113 on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re not giving up,” New York coach Jeff Hornacek said after the game. “We’ve gotten down in some of these games, and it’s an emphasis like, ‘Hey, keep playing.’ The game is not always won or lost in the first or second quarter. It’s a 48-minute game. That’s why I’m happy for these guys.”
For the second consecutive game, the Knicks waged a furious late rally, as the Hornets led by 13 with 1:07 left in the third quarter. Unlike New York’s Sunday rally from 18 behind against the Indiana Pacers, it wasn’t Porzingis and the Knicks’ starters doing the damage.
McDermott had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points in the first four minutes of the period. Porzingis re-entered the game halfway through the quarter and scored seven points in the final two minutes, including a driving layup with 11 seconds left and the shot clock dwindling to put the Knicks up by three.
“McDermott was the difference in the game in my opinion,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Porzingis is going to get his. He got 11 (points) right away. Marvin Williams did a good job on him, making it hard on him. He’s such a good player. (But) McDermott was terrific and I thought that was the biggest difference in the game.
Dwight Howard, Kemba Walker and Malik Monk each had 21 points to lead Charlotte, which lost for the third straight game.
The Knicks shot 60 percent from the floor, while the Hornets hit 46.2 percent of their shots.
“We fought,” Knicks reserve forward Lance Thomas said. “We scrapped and we had to whatever to win. We had a tough battle the other night with Indiana, and we had to come from behind to get the win. We had some resolve to come back.”
The Knicks found themselves in the predicament because Charlotte (5-6) got off to a scorching start, outscoring New York 41-32 in the first quarter after shooting 59 percent from the field and 78 percent from 3-point range.
Jeremy Lamb hit a 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left to give the Hornets their biggest lead of the game to that point, and Howard had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Williams added seven of his 12 points in the quarter.
The second quarter was much of the same, as Charlotte increased its lead to 69-58 going into the half despite the Knicks shooting 11 of 17 for the quarter. The Hornets benefited from 11 first-half New York turnovers and had a slight first-half rebounding advantage (19-16).
Porzingis had 19 first-half points, including 15 in the first quarter, to lead the Knicks, but was largely quiet in the second half until exploding late in the game.
“Fourth quarter, we stopped doing what we did to get the lead,” Howard said. “We have to be consistent for four quarters. Tonight we did a good job for three. That is what allowed them to come back and win the game.”
NOTES: The Knicks are 36-15 at home in the all-time series against the Hornets. … Charlotte concludes a four-game road-trip at Boston on Friday. … The Knicks are expected to get back the services of the suspended C Joakim Noah for the Monday game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. As it stands, the Knicks’ roster is full with 15 players, so they will have to make a move to create space. … New York plays away from home for the first time since Oct. 29 on Wednesday with a visit to Orlando. … The Tuesday game was Porzingis’ first since winning Eastern Conference player of the week honors after averaging more than 33 points last week.