NEW ORLEANS - It took a stunning streak to extend the Knicks' longest winning streak in almost four years. They shot 6-for-7 from three-point range in the final 4:44 and scored the game's final 18 points to beat the Hornets, 113-96, after falling behind by 16 points in the second quarter.
The win was the fourth straight for the Knicks (8-15), who haven't enjoyed a stretch this successful since they won six in a row under Larry Brown in January 2006. "We're just playing really well right now,'' Mike D'Antoni said. "Hopefully, we just keep our heads down and keep on plugging.''
Chris Duhon, a product of Slidell, La., made back-to-back three-pointers in a span of 65 seconds late in the game. His first one put the Knicks ahead for good at 98-96 with 4:44 left.
After Duhon made his second three-pointer, Al Harrington (28 points) hit two three-pointers to make it 107-96 with 2:18 left. Duhon extended it with a bomb off the glass with 1:06 left to make it 110-96. Harrington missed a three, but Danilo Gallinari (12 points, 11 rebounds) got the offensive rebound and hit one final dagger three with 12.6 seconds left.
"The basket seems like it's huge,'' said Harrington, who drilled a shot from midcourt to end the first half. "You feel like anything you throw up there you can make. I'm happy I made mine. Du made a bank shot. Gallo made one. That's how it happens sometimes. That's why the three-point shot is so dangerous."
Duhon had 22 points, shooting 6-for-8 from three-point range, and nine assists. "Once you start to make shots, that's when David [Lee] and I with the pick-and-rolls become even better,'' he said. "I'm shooting with confidence, and once I hit one or two, I felt like I couldn't miss."
Before the game, Hornets general manager/coach Jeff Bower called Lee "one of the best bigs in the league at rolling to the basket." Lee slipped through the Hornets on several pick-and-roll baskets and had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Emeka Okafor's defense against Lee and the pick-and-roll was so bad that Bower kept him on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. It took away an important inside scoring threat for the Hornets, whose offense struggled. But Bower and Chris Paul were more concerned about the defense. "Our defense was unbelievable,'' Paul said. "We've got to change that . . . Tonight it was horrible.''
The Knicks, meanwhile, tightened up their interior defense, allowing 32 points in the paint in the first half and only eight in the second half. They held the Hornets scoreless in the final 4:57 and to 34 points in the second half.
The Hornets' lead had grown to 16 when Darius Songaila scored on consecutive pick-and-roll cuts to make it 58-42 with 3:21 left in the first half.
David West had 20 points for the Hornets (10-12). Paul shot 4-for-14 but had 13 points and 13 assists, only two after halftime.
"I just try to keep him in front of me,'' Jared Jeffries said. "If you give him angles, he can pass the ball and he can drive right past you. He's just so fast and athletic, so we use this against a lot of guards and it's worked out well so far this year."
With so much time between games - the Knicks beat the Trail Blazers on Monday and won't play again until Tuesday in Charlotte - D'Antoni mainly stuck to a tight seven-man rotation that did not include Nate Robinson nor rookie Toney Douglas. Eddy Curry did make his first appearance after missing two weeks with a sore knee. The 7-footer played only six minutes in the first half, recorded two points and a rebound, and tired quickly.