NEW YORK — The New York Knicks had old faces on the floor and a new look to their arena. Only Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats kept it from being a completely successful night.
Walker scored 18 points and made the tiebreaking basket with 1:31 remaining as the Bobcats spoiled the Knicks’ return to Madison Square Garden with an 85-83 preseason victory Friday night.
Walker finished with nine rebounds and six assists as the Bobcats wrapped up a 5-3 preseason. Josh McRoberts had 19 points and nine rebounds, Gerald Henderson scored 18 points and Bismack Biyombo grabbed 20 rebounds in what Walker said was a “huge” victory for Charlotte.
“It shows us that we can play because the Knicks didn’t just give us that game, we worked for that game,” he said. “So it shows us that we can go out there and compete with the best of them.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 13 points but shot 4 of 17, missing a potential tying jumper in the final seconds.
The Knicks had a 19-point lead in the first half but then missed 18 of 22 shots in the third quarter. They regained the lead on Anthony’s jumper with 2:26 remaining before Walker made consecutive high-arching jumpers in the lane, the second making it 85-83 with 1:31 to play.
It was the Knicks’ lone home game on the final night of the NBA’s preseason schedule. Madison Square Garden reopened Thursday after completion of its $1 billion renovation that spanned the last three offseasons, featuring a giant new videoboard, two overhead bridges with views of the court and an expanded entrance from Seventh Ave.
The Knicks played six road games while the work was completed, which Anthony said was difficult. They will practice here Saturday and open their season here Wednesday against Milwaukee.
“We never really got a chance to adjust here during the preseason, but that’s over,” Anthony said. “Now the real deal starts and this journey begins.”
J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire both made their preseason debuts after working their way back from knee surgeries. Smith scored 11 points and Stoudemire had six points on 3-of-4 shooting, both reserves playing limited minutes.
Smith will miss the first five regular-season games while serving a suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, but Stoudemire said he’s ready to go after recovering from his third knee surgery in the last year.
“I feel great. I feel strong,” he said. “I feel no soreness right now after the game, so I’m sure I’ll be ready for go for Wednesday.”
Second-year forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed the game for Charlotte after straining his right hamstring Thursday against Cleveland.