Hornets beat Knicks; no last-minute luck for Lin
New York, NY – Jeremy Lin lined up a straight-away three and tying shot off the rim. Moments later, he bullied his way through the lane and fell down, throwing up a shot that didn't hit any metal at all.
Indeed, there was no late-game magic in the offing in the first loss of the Linsanity era.
The New York Knicks had their seven-game winning streak snapped with an 89-85 loss Friday night to the New Orleans Hornets, who led wire-to-wire in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd that had come to expect so much from a suddenly hot team and its benchwarmer-turned starting point guard.
"He scored 26 points," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of Lin. "I don't know what you want him to have, 40?"
Trevor Ariza scored 25 points and Marco Belinelli had 17 for the Hornets, who held on down the stretch after leading by as many as 14 points in the game and 12 in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans has won three straight games for the first time since April 3-8 last year and snapped a six-game losing streak to the Knicks.
Emeka Okafor missed his third straight game with a sore left knee, but offered praise for his teammates on Twitter after the game.
"Great job Hornets! Way to 'Curb the LINthusiasm!!!'" Okafor wrote.
Lin stepped his play up in the second half after turning the ball over eight times in the first half. In addition to his 26 points, he had five assists and finished with nine turnovers.
Amare Stoudemire also scored 26 points with 12 rebounds and Tyson Chandler had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
The Knicks were trying to win eight games in a row for the first time in more than 14 months, but never even had a lead. The Hornets opened the game with a 12-4 run while Lin committed three turnovers and New York started 2-for-6 from the field.
"That's basically what it was," D'Antoni offered. "The game just started off flat."
The Knicks had won seven straight, all with big contributions from Lin and the last five without injured star Carmelo Anthony, who hopes to be back soon from a strained groin.
But something was off from the beginning Friday night. Chris Kaman had 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter and the Hornets shot almost 56 percent from the field while holding New York under 30 percent. Lin turned the ball over five times and the Hornets built a 27-13 lead going into the second quarter.
The Knicks drew within 43-39 at halftime. But New Orleans got seven points and five assists from Greivis Vasquez in the third quarter and remained in front, 68-58.
New York got as close as two, but Gustavo Ayon's three-point play pushed the New Orleans lead back to five. After Lin cut it to three points moments later, Belinelli followed with a layup.
A key play came with 25.3 seconds left when Belinelli was swarmed by Jared Jeffries and Landry Fields after getting an inbounds pass on the left side of the court. Fields was whistled for a foul -- even though they had Belinelli socked in -- and the Hornets guard hit two foul shots to make it 87-82.
The Knicks were never closer than the final margin after that.
"We had to make shots and we didn't," said D'Antoni. "We had to come up with big stops and we didn't."
The Hornets improved to 2-0 on a six-game road trip, winning two straight games on the road for the first time since March 24-25 last year. Their current three-game overall winning streak comes on the heels of eight straight losses.
The Knicks signed free agent swingman J.R. Smith, who recently returned from playing in China, and waived forward Renaldo Balkman. Smith was a teammate of Anthony in Denver...The last Hornets win against the Knicks came April 4, 2008, which was also the franchise's seventh victory in a row over New York...Film director Spike Lee, a longtime Knicks season-ticket holder, sat courtside wearing Lin's green No. 4 Palo Alto High School jersey...On Friday, MSG Media reached a tentative deal with Time Warner Cable to resume carrying its networks after a 48-day dispute, including the MSG Network broadcast of Friday's game. Time Warner subscribers in New York had been unable to see the rise of Linsanity because of the blackout.