The Charlotte Hornets couldn’t be feeling much better about how things are going after a four-night stretch that resulted in three victories.
Another chance to add to the soaring confidence comes Monday night when the New York Knicks visit for a game in Charlotte, N.C.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Hornets coach James Borrego said.
That’s not the case with the Knicks, who are coming off consecutive home losses. The most recent of those setbacks was Sunday night’s 114-89 defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
“I just think we have to get our confidence and swagger back,” Knicks forward Julius Randle said.
The Hornets have a season-best three-game winning streak. Rookie guard LaMelo Ball turned in his first NBA triple-double Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks. The 19-year-old became the youngest player in NBA history to compile a triple-double.
“It’s just basketball,” Ball said, sounding fully confident. “It’s just what I do.”
New York and Charlotte both hold .500 records, but the Hornets certainly seem more secure in how things have gone across the past week.
“Super comfortable,” guard Terry Rozier said of settling into a role with some new combinations of player rotations. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates allowing me to be me.”
The Knicks, who completed a 1-2 homestand, don’t want the slide to continue so the outing against the Hornets could prove crucial. They were able to rest some of the regulars down the stretch of Sunday’s loss.
“We’re not playing well and we have to work on fixing it,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The games keep coming so we have to get ready for Charlotte. You have to make the best use of whatever time you have.”
Thibodeau said it’s important that the Knicks address their shortcomings even with the rapid-fire schedule providing reduced practice opportunities. New York is 3-2 in road games.
The Knicks have scored 89 points in each of their past two games. Cranking up the offense could come with more energized play.
“(The game at Charlotte) is a great opportunity for us to play hard, fight,” Randle said.
Meanwhile, Charlotte leads the NBA in assists with 29 per game.
“We’ve got a really unselfish group and we have a team full of facilitators,” reserve Caleb Martin said.
Said Rozier: “We all want to share the ball.”
Martin said the guards have done a good job of setting up Charlotte’s top shooters.
Ball’s performances have given the Hornets jolts of confidence.
“He’s not fazed by the moment,” Borrego said. “It’s like he has been doing this for a number of years. A 19-year-old rookie doesn’t look like this.”
Yet some of the turnaround for the Hornets could be attributed to better attention at the defensive end. They largely kept Atlanta Hawks scoring sensation Trae Young in check in two meetings last week, holding the star to 22 total points.
“We have to keep taking pride in making stops,” Martin said.
This is the only scheduled meeting between the Knicks and Hornets on the NBA schedule that has been set through early March.
–Field Level Media