Hornets try to bring road mentality home vs. Knicks

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The Charlotte Hornets have to take their road mentality to the court for home games.

And even that will need an adjustment.

The Hornets get their next shot at it Wednesday night, when they host the New York Knicks at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.

The Hornets were aiming for their fourth straight road victory Tuesday night at Indiana, but lost 119-80 — Charlotte’s lowest point total of the season.

Some of that could have been related to guard Devonte’ Graham not playing. He sat out to rest, something that might aid him as he has slumped in the past week.

The disturbing part for Charlotte is that it had developed a good mindset for road games.

“Coach says we kind of play with our back against the wall on the road,” Hornets post player Cody Zeller told reporters, referring to coach James Borrego. Zeller noted that the pace of play tends to vary a lot for the team.

“Trying to find that happy medium is something we have to get better at,” Zeller said.

Guard Malik Monk made his first career start for Charlotte and produced eight points Tuesday.

The Knicks have lost four games in a row, with many of the problems stemming from defense. Coach Mike Miller said the defense has to come together, and that includes rebounding to close the possessions for opponents.

That was clearly evident after Monday night’s 123-112 loss at Houston, in which the Knicks surrendered 72 points in the first half.

The Hornets have concerns about defense, as well. That tends to be a focal point, particularly because Charlotte has had trouble locking down foes after building leads.

“We have to make sure we communicate on defense,” Hornets forward Cody Martin said.

“It’s something we try to emphasize each game is amp up our rebounding. Making sure we close possessions out with one shot (for the opponent).”

The Knicks have failed to reach 100 points in three of their last five games. This is the front end of a back-to-back for the Knicks, who go to Philadelphia on Thursday night to end a three-game road trip.

The Knicks are still looking for the right combinations, and it seems to be an ongoing topic. Miller has tweaked roles for some players to try to maximize their production.

“We think the guys are versatile and we can move them around in different ways,” Miller said.

Rookie guard RJ Barrett has been more of a factor in some recent games.

“The guys went to him and he made some plays,” Miller said of a recent development.

The Hornets keep working on their approach, and it certainly didn’t work out in Tuesday night’s game. The consistency level that’s needed hasn’t been attained.

“Part of it is growing pains of learning the NBA,” Zeller said. “… That’s what this year was for. We’ve gotten better throughout the year.”

Knicks guard Elfrid Payton has missed the past two games because of an injured right ankle. This could mean an expanded role for guard Dennis Smith Jr. as he plays a game in his home state.

–Field Level Media

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