The Charlotte Hornets have been outrebounded in five straight games.
No team exposed that weakness better than the New York Knicks did last week.
The Hornets managed to survive a big disparity on the boards to extend their win streak over the Knicks to four heading into Tuesday night's rematch at Madison Square Garden.
Charlotte (5-5) has seen its average rebound margin dip to minus-3.2 after being outrebounded by an average of 12.6 in a five-game stretch in which it is 3-2.
“We have to have everybody coming back to rebound,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Everybody's gotta come back to rebound, so that way, it's our only chance. If you hit and block out, the other guys can't (rebound). We're just not doing that.”
The Hornets overcame a 52-33 edge on the glass by the Knicks in last Wednesday's 95-93 home win. New York averages 15.5 second-chance points for one of the league's best marks, but was held to a season-low 10 that night.
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis had a season-high 15 rebounds in that contest, which will be remembered for his 3-pointer that was ruled to have come after the final buzzer. The Knicks stormed the court in celebration when he hit the shot.
Nicolas Batum scored a team-high 24 points in that game for Charlotte to start a three-game stretch in which he is averaging 28.3 on 57.4 percent shooting. He scored 33 – two off his career high – in Sunday's 106-94 home victory over Portland.
“Maybe,” said Batum when asked whether this was his best career stretch. “My role is different right now and we're winning games. It's not like I'm playing great and we don't win.”
The Frenchman had a huge effort in the wake of the attacks in Paris, and a countryman stepped up Sunday for the Knicks. Kevin Seraphin had 12 points in 14 minutes in a 95-87 win over New Orleans.
Seraphin is a little-used reserve who had not seen more than nine minutes of action for New York before he scored six points in nine minutes in the fourth quarter alone.
“He was ready,” said Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging 26.6 points in his last five games. “He was a big part of our run that we made in the second half. To see him, and what he's dealing with emotionally and mentally, be prepared today when his number was called was big.''
New York (5-6) is averaging 41.7 bench points for one of the league's best marks.
The Knicks limited Al Jefferson to four points on 2-of-10 shooting in the last meeting. That was part of a three-game stretch in which the Hornets big man totaled 19 points on 28.6 percent shooting before he scored 29 and made 13 of 17 shots versus the Trail Blazers.
“He's hard to guard 1-on-1, we know that,” Hornets guard Jeremy Lin said. “Coach made it a priority in terms of talking about when and where to get him the ball.”
Jeremy Lamb, averaging 13.3 points to rank among the league's best reserves, missed the Hornets' practice Monday with a shoulder injury.
Charlotte is seeking to win five straight over New York for the first time.
- Al Jefferson
- Carmelo Anthony
- Charlotte Hornets
- Jeremy Lamb
- Jeremy Lin
- Kevin Seraphin
- Kristaps Porzingis
- New York Knicks
- Nicolas Batum