Knicks at Hornets
The New York Knicks continue to be the biggest early-season surprise, owning the league's best record as they get set to kick off a three-game road trip against the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday. The Knicks bounced back from their first defeat with an 88-76 win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. It was the lowest point total surrendered by New York, which tops the NBA in fewest points allowed with an average of 90.0. The Knicks, led by Carmelo Anthony, are hardly slouches at the other end of the floor, averaging 100.5 points.
Defense had been the calling card for the Hornets but that has changed dramatically during a three-game losing streak. New Orleans is giving up an average of 109 points during the skid and has been torched repeatedly from the perimeter, allowing its last two opponents - Milwaukee and Oklahoma City - to shoot a scalding 50 percent (27 of 54) from 3-point range. The schedule does not get any easier with a four-game road trip upcoming following the visit by New York.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), Fox Sports New Orleans
ABOUT THE KNICKS (7-1): The decision to let cult hero Jeremy Lin walk via free agency raised a lot of eyebrows, but the play of point guard Raymond Felton has helped to allay those concerns. Felton, who was acquired from Portland in the summer, is third on the team in scoring at 15.6 points and is averaging 6.5 assists. In an ugly offensive game against the Pacers, he did not have a single turnover. "He's doing an excellent job," Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. "He's proven himself as one of the top guards in this league."
ABOUT THE HORNETS (3-5): New Orleans tumbled to its third straight defeat despite a season-high point total and shooting 60 percent in the first three quarters of a 117-113 loss at Milwaukee. Rookie forward Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick who was expected to be a difference-maker on defense, had the best overall performance of his brief career by pouring in 28 points and grabbing 11 boards. It was a big bounce-back effort for Davis, who had shot woefully and scored eight points in each of the previous two losses.
1. The Knicks had beaten the Hornets six straight times - scoring more than 100 points in each - until an 89-85 home loss last February.
2. New Orleans held its first five opponents under 100 points before allowing its next three to reach triple digits.
3. Anthony sat out last season's loss to the Hornets, but he is averaging 24.4 points against them in 22 career games.