Hold off for now on that argument about whether the Knicks’ offense needs to run through Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis.
Both stars hit multiple massive shots in fronting the Knicks to their sixth straight home victory on Friday night at rejuvenated Madison Square Garden.
With Porzingis in foul trouble through three quarters, Anthony led the Knicks back from a 13-point second-half deficit – before also knocking down the tiebreaking basket in the closing seconds of overtime to pull out a back-and-forth 113-111 victory over Charlotte.
Porzingis had been limited to five points in just 17 minutes through three quarters, drawing his third personal with five minutes left in the second and his fourth barely three minutes into the third quarter.
But Porzingis scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a top-of-the-arc three for a 94-93 lead with barely three minutes remaining in regulation. He also made an emphatic rejection of Cody Zeller late in the fourth and another of Frank Kamisnky early in overtime.
Anthony netted 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter and scored 11 more in the third — before finishing with 35 points, 14 rebounds and a couple of key late assists – as the Knicks (8-7) moved over .500 for the first time this season.
First-year coach Jeff Hornacek’s team has dropped five of six games this season on the road, however, and will face the Hornets (also 8-7) again on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Rookie big man Willy Hernangomez sank two key baskets inside in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, both off entry feeds from Anthony. Short jumpers by Anthony and Derrick Rose (16 points) had the Knicks up 104-101 with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Kemba Walker, the Bronx and UConn product who entered averaging 24.8 points and 5.4 assists per game in 14 appearances, tied the score with a three-point play with 20.3 ticks to go, driving and hitting his free throw after getting fouled underneath by Hernangomez.
Anthony’s isolation jumper from the left elbow rimmed out the fourth-quarter buzzer, but with the score knotted at 111 after a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dunk with 26 seconds left in overtime, Anthony backed down Kidd-Gilchrist and sank a turnaround jumper from the left side with 3.1 seconds remaining. Rose then got a piece of Walker’s desperation three from the left corner as time expired.
Knicks big man Joakim Noah returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two games – both victories – with an undisclosed illness. He finished with six points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes, none after the third quarter.
“Jo, his minutes probably will be limited a little bit,” coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game. “Coming off the sickness, he’s a guy that relies on his energy, and we need that for us. So we’ll see how it goes. I might start him and give him some minutes and see how it goes and then we’ll make our adjustments.”
Hornacek indicated that he hopes that Noah, who participated in the Knicks’ shootaround on Friday morning after sitting out Sunday’s win over Atlanta and Tuesday’s victory over Portland, also will be to play on Saturday night in Charlotte.
With Noah sidelined against the Trail Blazers, Porzingis switched to center for parts of the game and notched his second 30-point outing of the season. He shot 13-for-23 from the floor, including three three-pointers, for 31 points in more than 39 minutes of action.
The Knicks trailed by four points at intermission on Friday, but the Hornets extended their lead to 70-57 midway through the quarter. Hornacek then demonstrably drew a technical foul arguing an offensive interference call against Hernangomez, running nearly out to the center-court logo to argue with the officials.
From there, the Anthony-led Knicks embarked on a 22-4 run to close the quarter, grabbing a 79-74 cushion entering the fourth.
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