CHARLOTTE (AP) — Nic Batum walked over to Malik Monk after Charlotte’s 101-92 win over the New York Knicks on Monday night and told the reserve guard, “thank you.”
“The starters have played a lot of minutes lately, especially on the road,” Batum said. “… We feel like we had heavy legs.”
Monk and the others on the Hornets’ bench helped bail out the starters.
Kemba Walker finished with 15 points, and Charlotte got 63 points from its bench — including 15 from Tony Parker and 14 from Monk, who added four clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Hornets handed the Knicks their 10th straight loss.
The Hornets entered the fourth quarter tied, but Monk scored 12 points during a pivotal 17-1 run.
As they did in a 119-117 loss at Madison Square Garden last month, the Hornets struggled to shake the Knicks, shooting 36 percent overall and just 5 of 25 from beyond the arc in the first three quarters.
But trailing 75-73, Monk knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, one coming on a nifty play from Walker, who delivered a wraparound pass from underneath the basket to an open Monk at the top of the key. Monk and Walker accounted for all 17 points during the crucial run.
Walker finished just 5 of 16 from the field, but made a big step-back 3 from the corner and assisted on three of Monk’s 3s. The Hornets were 6 of 8 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.
Monk has struggled through some shooting slumps during the season and his defense has cost him playing time.
But Hornets coach James Borrego said he’s getting better at both, particularly since the team’s recent West Coast trip.
“You’re going to miss shots, there’s going to be days when you miss shots, but it’s in your mind to keep going,” Monk said. “When you keep shooting the same way, the ball is going to fall in, so I just kept my same routine, kept shooting the same and I was able to knock them down.”
Said Borrego: “He’s one of those dynamic offensive players. He can get you 15 in a heartbeat. He can get hot quick. And I think he’s getting better.”
Kevin Knox had 19 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. 17 for the struggling Knicks, who have won one game since beating the Hornets on Dec. 14.
Knicks coach David Fizdale said his team continues to struggle against teams that switch on defense.
“Right now, it’s about getting our guys to learn how to play against switching and not holding the basketball — it is our Achilles heel right now, learning how to play against a switching defense,” Fizdale said.
Knicks: Outrebounded by the Hornets 53-45.
Hornets: Walker spoke to the crowd before the game and thanked them for voting for him and helping him become an All-Star game starter for the first time. … Improved to 17-8 at home.
ALLEN SEES TIME
With Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay out, the Knicks brought up Kadeem Allen and he finished with eight points in 18 minutes. Allen played three years at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina — the same school as NBA great and Hornets owner Michael Jordan — before transferring prior to his senior season.
“It was cool playing at Laney. I got a couple of Jordans (shoes) and it was pretty cool to be represented by Jordan at that level,” Allen said.
As for his future, he could see some playing time in the coming games with injuries mounting for New York.
“He’s come a long way since we first got him,” Fizdale said. “I’m just really happy with his growth and he fits our identity. He’s tough. He guards. He shares the ball. I just really, really like this kid.”
Borrego was pleased with the play of his bench, as Willy Hernangomez had 11 points and 11 rebounds and rookie Miles Bridges had 11 points and eight rebounds.
“That’s when we’re at our best,” Borrego said. “Our depth is our strength. When you look at our group, for us to get this done this season and become a better team than we are right now it’s the depth of our that’s going to get it done.”