Kemba Walker just loves playing at Madison Square Garden.
Walker scored 25 points despite suffering a shoulder injury midway through the third quarter and not returning until the middle of the fourth and the Charlotte Bobcats held off a late New York rally to beat the Knicks 102-97 on Tuesday night.
"It didn’t feel too good at the time. A little pop real quick, but I’m fine. I had x-rays and I’m fine," Walker said. "I always like winning, especially here against the Knicks. It’s always fun."
Walker led UConn to the 2011 Big East tournament championship at MSG as the Huskies won five games in five nights. He averaged 21 points against New York last year.
Gerald Henderson scored 18 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 16 for the Bobcats.
After falling behind 2-0, the Bobcats took the lead on Walkers’ 3-pointer and never trailed again. They took their biggest lead of the game, 69-56, on Kidd-Gilchrist’s two free throws with 9:50 left in the third quarter. But, the Knicks whittled the lead to four, 76-72, on Raymond Felton’s jumper with 3:11 left in the third.
Charlotte got its lead back up to eight points before settling for an 82-76 advantage after three quarters.
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points to lead the Knicks, but was only 10 for 28 from the field. His back-to-back baskets late in the fourth quarter twice brought the Knicks within two, but every attempt that the Knicks had to take the lead failed.
"We dig ourselves these big holes and then we want to fight back and by that time it was a little bit too late," Anthony said. "Tonight was one of those nights."
With 16 seconds left, Anthony hit a 3-pointer to get the Knicks within three, 99-96. After a Bobcats turnover, Iman Shumpert was fouled but made only one of two. Henderson then hit his two free throws with 13 seconds left and the Knicks never got closer.
"The last four or five minutes wasn’t easy," said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford. "We had a lot of guys step up and make plays. To me, those are the best kind of games to win."
The Bobcats (2-2) are off to their best start since the 2009-10 season when they began 3-2, while the Knicks (1-3) are off to their worst start since that same season when they started off 1-9.
"We’re happy with it (the record). It’s not fun to come out here and lose every night. We put a lot of work into it just like every other team," Henderson said. "So 2-2 is cool now."
Walker hit his first three shots of the game, including two 3-pointers, and finished with 10 in the first quarter. He finished the first half with 17 on 7-9 shooting as the Bobcats took a 64-54 halftime lead.
The Knicks also suffered a loss in the game, as starting center Tyson Chandler left midway through the first quarter and never returned with a right knee injury.
"We don’t know the severity yet," said Knicks Coach Mike Woodson. "We will know more tomorrow morning, but he is a big piece of what we do."
The Bobcats opened a 10-point lead, 49-39, on two Ramon Session free throws with 7:10 left in the first half. However, Metta World Peace, who finished with 18 points, scored the Knicks next seven points.
Felton and Shumpert each had 14 for the Knicks.
NOTES: Felton also left the floor in the first quarter due to a nose bleed, but returned in the second quarter. … Felton was drafted fifth overall by Charlotte in the 2005 NBA Draft. … Bobcats Assistant Coach Patrick Ewing is the Knicks all-time leader in points (23,665), rebounds (1,039), blocks (2,758), steals (1,061), and minutes (37,586). "This is home," Ewing said.