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Hornets push past Knicks in battle for play-in position

Mar 30, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) and center Mitchell Robinson (23) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Miles Bridges scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the final 3:30 of the fourth quarter Wednesday for the visiting Charlotte Hornets, who clinched at worst a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament and all but ended the New York Knicks’ playoff hopes with a 125-114 win.

The Hornets (40-37) remained in ninth place in the East, a half-game behind the idle Brooklyn Nets. Charlotte, which was eliminated in its play-in opener last season, hasn’t reached the main bracket since 2016, the longest active drought among Eastern Conference teams.

The loss for the Knicks (34-43), coupled with the Hawks’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, means New York would be eliminated with one more loss or one more win by Atlanta. New York reached the playoffs last year for the first time since 2013.

LaMelo Bell scored 20 points and racked up a career-high 15 assists for the Hornets, who received 21 points off the bench from Kelly Oubre Jr. Terry Rozier had 15 points while P.J. Washington added 11 points as Charlotte won for the eighth time in 10 games.

Evan Fournier scored 30 points for the Knicks, who had their season-high, four-game winning streak snapped. Alec Burks (12 points, 12 rebounds) posted a double-double while RJ Barrett scored 25 points and Julius Randle had 21 points. Immanuel Quickley scored 16 points off the bench, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

Neither team led by more than six points until the Hornets scored the final seven points of the third quarter to go ahead 91-83. The Knicks went scoreless on their first three possessions of the fourth, during which Oubre and Bell each hit floaters to extend Charlotte’s lead to 12 points.

Quickley sank a 3-pointer out of a timeout to end the dry spell for New York. The Knicks didn’t get closer than seven points until an 8-0 run that Quickley capped with a three-point play, cutting the deficit to 104-102 with 5:53 left.

Washington and Mason Plumlee scored the next five points for the Hornets to pad the advantage to seven. Randle converted a three-point play before Bridges took over, scoring the Hornets’ next 14 points.

–Field Level Media