Bobcats 118, Knicks 110
NEW YORK (AP)
Sure, Boris Diaw was lousy the night before, Charlotte coach Paul Silas conceded.
Nothing to worry about, Silas figured, because he remembered Diaw usually plays well against the New York Knicks.
Sure enough, Diaw rebounded with a season-high 27 points, and the Bobcats snapped a four-game losing streak with a 118-110 victory Wednesday.
Diaw had some of his best moments playing for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix, and he's just as good against D'Antoni's system as he was in it.
''Some games I'm going to score a lot of points and some not, and usually it doesn't depend on what we do but what the opposite team is doing, and I always try to adapt to whatever the defense is giving me,'' Diaw said. ''And against this kind of team, yeah, I like these kind of games.''
Gerald Henderson added 24 for the Bobcats, who won for the first time since their opener. Reserve Byron Mullens scored 16 and D.J. Augustin finished with 14 points and 10 assists. Charlotte shot 55 percent from the field.
The Bobcats ruined the return of Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who helped get the Knicks' offense back on track but saw that effort wasted when they simply couldn't guard Charlotte.
''Offense was good ... just bad defense,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''Rotations weren't there. Give them a lot of credit, they played well, but at the same time we just played in spurts on defense. We just have to do a better job.''
Stoudemire had 25 points and 12 rebounds after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. Shumpert scored 18 points off the bench after beating a two-to-four week timetable after spraining a right knee ligament in the Christmas opener.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 32, but 22 came in the fourth quarter when all he could do was make the score more respectable.
''We played well offensively. Defensively a few letdowns,'' Stoudemire said. ''They got off to a great start and they got hot there in the fourth quarter also.''
Diaw was in quick foul trouble and was scoreless in 18 minutes of Charlotte's 115-101 loss in Cleveland on Tuesday. Silas said before the game that Diaw ''didn't do well last night,'' but didn't even address the poor performance with the Frenchman.
''I didn't say a word and I knew that he was going to come with it tonight because we've gone through that before and the next game he's played very well,'' Silas said.
And Diaw did, repeatedly finding ways to beat whichever member of the Knicks' much-hyped frontcourt guarded him and falling four points shy of his career high.
The Knicks blew another game they were expected to win following their loss to Toronto on Monday, and fans are showing signs of souring on a team with lofty expectations. Only Shumpert seemed safe from the boos, and even D'Antoni had a rare show of anger, swinging his arm in frustration after calling timeout following a basket by Diaw in the final minutes - as Shumpert limped off the floor with a cramp.
''That one, that hurt,'' Anthony said. ''Just the way we've been playing the last couple of games, I mean it hurt to lose games like that. Hard to dig ourselves out of a hole like that and try to fight back every time. It takes a toll on everybody. The good thing is it's over with now. Got practice tomorrow, look at some film, talk it out, figure it out and move on.''
Shumpert sparked the Knicks on both ends, and Knicks fans booed when D'Antoni replaced him with Toney Douglas early in the fourth quarter. Kemba Walker soon followed with five straight as Charlotte took a 95-80 lead, and it grew to 100-84 on a 3-pointer by Diaw with 7:47 remaining.
Walker had seven points in his first game in his hometown since leading Connecticut to last season's Big East championship.
Walker has played at Madison Square Garden since high school, but even he needed directions to his locker following renovations at the arena. He bought only two tickets, but expected and got cheers in his first game here since beginning the Huskies' improbable run to a national championship by winning five games in five days here.
''Being that I'm from New York, just the things that I've accomplished in this building, of course last season from the Big East tournament, it was a huge tournament run for me and my teammates, so it's exciting,'' he said before the game. ''It's an electrifying building.''
He'll be back soon, as the Bobcats return Monday night.
Shumpert, wearing a black brace over his knee, checked in late in the first quarter and had five quick points. But the Bobcats scored the final four points of the period for a 30-26 lead, then carried that momentum right through the second.
Charlotte ran off nine straight points, with Mullens jumping right over Tyson Chandler to put back one miss, to extend their lead to 54-40. New York cut it to 62-52 at halftime, but the Bobcats came out of the locker room with the first four of the second half to push the lead back to 14.
NOTES: Corey Maggette strained his left hamstring and will have an MRI on Thursday in Charlotte. ... D'Antoni said Jared Jeffries (sore right calf) could return next week. The Bobcats' Tyrus Thomas (sprained left ankle) could be back later this week. ... Commissioner David Stern was at the game.
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