Bobcats fall short to New York
By BRIAN MAHONEY,
NEW YORK (AP) Their best shooter fails to close it out from the foul line, then preserves the victory with a blocked shot.
Whatever it takes to win, and right now the New York Knicks keep finding ways to do it.
Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 26 points, Danilo Gallinari added 21 and a huge block in the closing seconds, and the Knicks held on for a 98-94 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday night.
“You work every day on everything, not just on your offense,” Gallinari said. “I think we are definitely playing better. We are playing I think really good defense (for) 48 minutes.”
David Lee finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who won for the sixth time in eight games. They would have had another victory in that stretch, but they were outscored 15-2 over the last 2:33 of a 94-87 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday night.
Chandler and Gallinari wouldn’t let the Knicks blow this one, both hitting big 3-pointers in the final quarter. But Gallinari’s biggest play came on the other end, when he blocked Acie Law’s layup with 4.9 seconds left and New York up by two.
New York improved to 10-17 after a franchise-worst 1-9 start and has won both games on a five-game homestand that coach Mike D’Antoni said is important because of the poor start.
“This is a stretch you have to take advantage of,” he said. “I don’t think it is so crucial that you can’t recover if you just kind of do so-so, but this is one opportunity we have to right the ship, get back in the hunt and we’re doing it so far.”
And they’re doing it defensively, limiting their opponent below 100 points for the seventh straight game. They are 7-3 this season when keeping teams below the century mark.
“It’s something our team has tried to step up and play better defense,” Lee said, “and really in the month of December we’ve done a better job of that after being ineffective in November at getting any kind of stops on anybody.”
Raymond Felton had 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Bobcats, already one of the NBA’s most punchless teams, who then finished this game without their top two scorers. Gerald Wallace was a late scratch because of a severe headache, and Stephen Jackson limped off midway through the third quarter with lower back spasms.
Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Charlotte, which has lost three in a row and five of six.
“Gallinari made the two biggest plays of the game. He outhustled us for a loose ball and he made a block. But that’s the most fun I had all year. Just because of the guys that were out there. The way they competed gave us a chance to win,” Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
“You know we’re about as short-handed as you could be when you considered Boris (Diaw)’s foul trouble and then no Gerald, no Stephen. We had a chance to win. We just came up short.”
Diaw’s basket trimmed the Knicks’ lead to 83-82 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining, but Gallinari nailed a 3-pointer with 5:05 to play. D.J. Augustin’s 3 again cut it to one, then Gallinari again hit from behind the arc to restore the four-point lead with 4:04 left.
A basket by Felton made it a two-point game with 3 1/2 to play before Chandler made a 3 from the corner. Al Harrington tipped in a miss on the next possession, extending the Knicks’ lead to a seemingly safe 94-87 with 1:31 left.
Charlotte scored five straight and again was within two on Felton’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds to go. Gallinari failed to put it away by hitting only two of four free throws, but made up for it with the block. Chandler hit two from the line to close it out.
“We’ve been in so many games where we’ve had a lead or came back and cut it close, but that’s not good enough (because) when you look at our overall record you look at us and you see we’re (1-12) on the road,” Tyson Chandler said. “That’s not going to cut it. We’ve got to close those games. We’ve got to find a way to do it.”
Jonathan Bender scored 11 points for the Knicks in his second game back in the NBA after being forced to stop playing the game during the 2005-06 season because of chronic right knee pain.
Wilson Chandler scored 13 points in the second, helping the Knicks take a 51-45 halftime lead. The lead grew to 12 midway through the third on Chris Duhon’s 3-pointer, but Charlotte had it down to four in the final minute of the period and went to the fourth trailing only 76-70.
NOTES: Charlotte had won both meetings this season and four in a row in the series. … Knicks president Donnie Walsh said before the game he will probably speak to the agent for benched guard Nate Robinson on Monday after a request for a trade. Aaron Goodwin made the request Saturday, and Robinson sat out a ninth straight game Sunday. … The Bobcats landed as scheduled Saturday night at Newark Airport after flying from Charlotte despite a winter storm.
Updated December 20, 2009