<
>

Rapid Reaction: Knicks 100, Hornets 92

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Entering the game, the Hornets were 8-1 when Chris Paul dished out 10 assists or more. Well, tonight he had 10 (and 17 points), and the Knicks still won, 100-92, beating one of the league's top teams at 13-5, thanks to arguably their best defensive half of the year. After being down 55-53 at the end of two, the Knicks held the Hornets to 20 points in the third quarter and 19 in the fourth quarter by clogging the middle, actively rotating and jumping out on shooters quickly.

The Knicks weren't just dominant on defense. Amare Stoudemire had his third straight 30-point game with 34 and Raymond Felton continued to make his claim as an All-Star candidate, tallying 17 points and 13 assists. "I think the guys are starting to get a swagger and they think they can win anywhere," Mike D'Antoni said. Keep in mind the Hornets were without their top scorer, All-Star David West (18.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg), who was suffering from a stomach virus. On the Knicks injury side, Ronny Turiaf missed his third straight game with a sore left knee.

TURNING POINT: For most of the first half, it looked like the Knicks of old. On offense, they were stagnant, had no ball rotation, weren't running the pick-and-roll well and resorted to jacking up outside shot after outside shot. Things picked up in the second half, and then really got going right at the start of the fourth quarter after Stoudemire made an eight-foot shot. Before he darted back on defense, he turned to face the Hornets' bench and put a finger to his mouth to silence them.

From that point on, the tide completely turned in the the Knicks' favor. Not only was their defense clicking, they showed on offense why they had gone 7-1 in their last eight games. Felton and Stoudemire ran the pick-and-roll effectively and created good spacing between each other so Stoudemire could get one-pass-to-dunk opportunities. Stoudemire also did a tremendous job of fighting for position down low to receive easy entry passes. As for the team, they moved the ball around the perimeter without hesitation and found the open shooter, especially Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler who combined for seven threes and 27 points.

SHAWNE SHINES: Shawne Williams came into the game tonight having played a total of seven minutes all season long. He left tonight's game sweating for 21 minutes and scoring a career-high 13 points off the bench. For a guy who had attempted only two shots in two games, he didn't shy away from shooting and he connected on three three-pointers. And on defense, he was all over the ball, collecting four rebounds, one steal and a block.

MOZGOV MISERY: Timofey Mozgov checked into the first quarter and this is how three consecutive possessions went for him on offense: he missed a gimme layup and then got blocked twice. A few minutes later, he was pulled and never saw the court again.

WHAT'S NEXT: A second meeting against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, where the Knicks won their first game of the season, 98-93. The Raptors, who are now 8-11 on the season, will experience a different Felton and Stoudemire on Sunday, who are averaging more than 45 points combined in their last 12 games. In their first matchup, they combined for 34.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.