Lin, Walker lead Hornets past Knicks 97-84

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jeremy Lin loosened up the New York Knicks and Kemba Walker provided the knockout punch.

The diminutive but effective backcourt duo scored 26 points each, helping the Charlotte Hornets coast to a 97-84 victory over the Knicks on Saturday night for their third win in four games.

Lin led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, while Walker scored 19 of his points after the break, including 11 in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Together, they combined to go 19 of 19 from the free-throw line, helping the Hornets overcome a 34 percent shooting night from the field.

The Hornets beat the Knicks for the fifth straight time at home despite being without five players, including three starters.

“We need to rack up some wins and keep playing together, regardless of who’s not playing,” Walker said. “We’ve got guys who are very capable of stepping up and making plays. Hopefully, we’re able to keep doing it.”

The Hornets also got a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds from an inspired P.J. Hairston,

“Coach Clifford, he got on me, and it kind of fired me up,” said Hairston, who was demonstrative on the court after a pair of driving three-point plays. “I just tried to take it all out on the court. You’ve got to find energy. This was a big game for us just like last night was. We had to come out and find the same energy we had” Friday night.

Derrick Williams led the Knicks with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Kristaps Porzingis had 13 points.

Robin Lopez only played three minutes in the second half for the Knicks and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Carmelo Anthony played 29 minutes, but none in the fourth quarter, and finished with just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Coach Derek Fisher said Anthony developed soreness in his left knee, but wasn’t sure if Anthony would have returned to play down the stretch even if healthy.

“We just weren’t playing with enough energy,” Fisher said. “We looked just completely worn down and worn out. We could not continue to bring enough energy to the game to have a chance. We just got some guys out there in the fourth quarter just to try to play hard and not really worry about the score.”

Charlotte outscored New York 32-13 in the third quarter to open a 21-point lead behind 11 points from Lin, eight from Walker and seven from Hairston, who was more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket.

The Knicks would make one run to get within 10 with 5:22 left, but Hairston scored on a breakaway layup and drew a foul, then knocked down a long 3-pointer to push the lead back to 13. Walker took over from there, hitting the step-back jumper from 19 foot with less than two minutes left that sent visiting Knicks fans heading to the exit.

Walker came in leading all NBA players in scoring since Christmas but struggled from the field early. He finished 7 of 25 from the field, but made all nine free throws.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Anthony (21,818) passed Gary Payton (21,813) for 30th all-time on the NBA career scoring list. … New York played without Lance Thomas (knee) again.

Hornets: Charlotte tied a season high with 32 made free throws. … Marvin Williams had 12 rebounds and Spencer Hawes had 10.

ZELLER OUT A WEEK

The Hornets played without center Cody Zeller (shoulder), guard Nic Batum (toe), guard Jeremy Lamb (toe), center Al Jefferson (knee) and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) due to injuries. The team announced during the game Zeller will miss at least one week before being reevaluated.

STRUGGLING TO .500

Fisher said the Knicks are “definitely feeling the impact” of their recent success, and the challenge ahead is to prove they can beat better teams.

“How do you go beyond a .500 team? How do you get to a point where you can break through?” Fisher said. “It requires more sacrifice, more discipline, more commitment and more energy. We have to keep plugging until we find a way.”

PANTHERS FEVER

Fans in the Charlotte, North Carolina area are pumped up about the NFC championship game, which will be held here Sunday between the hometown Panthers and the visiting Arizona Cardinals. When two fans wearing Cardinals jerseys were shown on the scoreboard, the crowd erupted in boos.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Hornets: Host Sacramento on Monday night.

Knicks reportedly had players-only meeting before David Fizdale was fired

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New York had lost eight in a row, blowing big leads in a couple of those games. The last two games the Knicks were listless — a 44-point crushing by the Sixers, then a 37-point thrashing by the Nuggets — and looked like a team that had given up.

Friday morning, team veterans — led by Marcus Morris — called a players-only meeting before practice to talk about the need for the players to not roll over and play harder. Particularly with coach David Fizdale’s job on the line. That meeting was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Fizdale then ran the team practice.

One meeting and one practice was not going to stop the inevitable, Fizdale was fired later on Friday. The Knicks have made that official and assistant coach Mike Miller will take over as the interim head coach.

Sometimes there is a boost of energy teams get from a coaching change, but in the case of the Knicks it may well be a dead cat bounce. That is unless the veterans really do take charge and start pushing this roster.

While Fizdale certainly deserves blame for the lack of identity on offense and defense from the Knicks, I’m not a believer that an NBA coach is fully responsible for his team’s motivation. These are professionals getting paid millions of dollars, it shouldn’t take a rah-rah speech from a guy in a tie to get them focused and ready to do their job. It’s on the players. Motivation is always part of a coach’s job, and with a young team keeping the players on task certainly is part of the coach’s responsibility, but at the NBA level a coach should have to worry less about firing his guys up on a nightly basis.

Knicks make it official: David Fizdale fired, assistant Mike Miller promoted to head coach

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UPDATE: The Knicks have made all the reporting official.

As had been expected, David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season. This was a case where Fizdale was given an “Island of Misfit Toys” roster to work with that was never going to be good, but he also didn’t do much with it. New York had no identity on either side of the ball. The Knicks have lost eight straight, the last two by at least 37 points, and the team was simply lackadaisical in its effort recently.

Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?

In the short term, New York promoted Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.

Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.

 

As was expected, Stephen Curry reportedly has second wrist surgery to remove pins

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This was both expected and right on schedule.

Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.

That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

This has been confirmed by Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.

“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.

Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.

The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.

Report: Knicks fire David Fizdale

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The Knicks started 2-8.

Then, it got worse.

Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.

Then, it got worse.

New York lost six straight.

Then, it got worse.

After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”

Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.

The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.

The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?

They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.

To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.

But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.

At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.