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Deke: Hornets' biggest win of the season over the Knicks
by Deke Bellavia,posted Feb 17 2012 10:08PM
Sporting their Mardi Gras uniforms, the New Orleans Hornets went to the City That Never Sleeps and put to bed one of the hottest teams in sports. The Hornets won their third straight, snapping the Knicks’ seven-game winning streak with a big 89-85 upset win over the Knickerbockers.
All the hype going into the game was about the play of New York’s Jeremy Lin. But it would be the Hornets total team effort that stood tall inside of Madison Square Garden. In fact, the Hornets played so well at times during the game you could hear the home crowd booing their team.
Trevor Ariza led the Hornets with 25 points and eight rebounds but it would be a total team effort in the Hornets win over the Knicks. The battle of the Big Easy versus the Big Apple could not have gotten off to a better start for the Hornets. With all of the Lin-sanity talk, the Hornets quietly came out and dominated the Knicks in the first half of the game, holding a double-digit lead for most of the first half of the game.
New Orleans waltzed into the locker room with a 43-39 lead over the Knicks. The bugs shot 43% from the field in the first half and New Orleans was deadly behind the arc shooting a whopping 80% making four of five three pointers. The Hornets held their own against the Knicks on the boards, with the Knicks having a slim 21-18 edge there.
The Hornets defensive pressure on the Knicks did the job, as New Orleans forced fourteen first-half turnovers from New York. However, the Knicks did close the gap by outscoring the Hornets 26-16 in the second stanza.
While I was watching the game at my good friend Wade’s home in Lafayette I kind of sat back and just thought about the job that Monty Williams is doing this season. Now I know many are saying, “What the hell did Deke just say!?” But I’m telling you, when you think of how this season began, the moves that were not allowed to be made, the moves that were allowed to be made, the injuries and all of the talk about not having an owner, you would have to say that Monty is doing one hell of a job.
Other than their loss to the Bulls two weeks ago, the Hornets have pretty much given their all and left everything out on the court every night they have played. This team does not give up, they play until the final horn sounds, and they respect their coach.
The Hornets did not have a drop in their intensity nor their play as in the third New Orleans came out red-hot, pushing their lead back to ten points on a Trevor Ariza three ball that gave the bugs a 56-46 lead early in the third quarter.
Ariza was having one whale of a game with a game-high twenty points through three quarters. New Orleans would go on to outscore the home-standing Knicks 23-19 in the third quarter to lead 68-58. Seven three-point field goals made by New Orleans and their ability to force eighteen Knicks turnovers was a big factor as to why New Orleans dominated New York on their own court through the first three quarters of the game.
New Orleans would increase their lead early in the fourth as Trevor drove to the rack and scored while being fouled, giving New Orleans a 71-59 cushion with 11:06 left to play. But the magic of the world’s most famous arena would come to life when Amare Stoudamire nailed a jumper to cut the Bugs’ lead to 71-66 with 8:21 left in the game as the Knicks went on a 7-0 run.
Man, the final eight minutes of this game were incredible as the Knicks crept back into the game, and the Hornets withstood every surge that the Knicks would use to try and take the lead. But without question, this was one of the biggest wins the Hornets have had in a very long time, as they never trailed the entire game.
After New York went on a 12-2 run, Gustavo Ayon stopped the bleeding for New Orleans as he drove to the rack and put in a layup while being hammered. He then hit the free throw to maintain the Hornets lead. Ayon was a solid contributor for New Orleans by scoring 13 points while pulling down nine boards for the Hornets.
Every time it seemed as if the Knicks would take control, New Orleans would answer. Later in the fourth quarter Marco Belinelli used a buzzer-beating bank shot to keep the Hornets on top. That was followed by a Chris Kaman drive to the rack that kept the Hornets out in front 82-77 with just over a minute left to play in the game.
New Orleans used tenacious defense at key moments of the game to hold off the Knicks, and their offensive output was as impressive. The Hornets shot 42% from the field while making seven of twelve three pointers.
The Hornets would close out the Knicks with an 89-85 win. The Hornets continue their road trip Monday Night as they take on the best team in the Western Conference in the Oklahoma City Thunder.