Terry Rozier added 22 points. He and Bridges combined to outscore the Knicks by themselves in the first half as Charlotte bounced back nicely from a loss to Orlando that ended its four-game winning streak.
Ball was ill but the Hornets didn't need their flashy point guard, with Bridges driving them to a strong start. He scored 28 points in the first half.
“He was awesome tonight. High-level performance. His confidence, the spirit he played with, led us to this victory,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “I thought Terry controlled the game as well. Miles and Terry together controlled that game, but Miles was fantastic.”
Rozier had 17 in the first half, when Charlotte led 62-44.
Ball was listed as questionable with an illness unrelated to COVID-19, but the Hornets said just before the start that he was available to play. Ball sat on the bench with his teammates to watch the impressive performances by Bridges and Rozier.
Bridges was 7 for 8 in the first quarter for 22 points. The Knicks barely outscored him, with Charlotte leading 34-23.
“LaMelo, he usually brings that aggression for us and we go as he goes, so somebody had to pick up the slack,” Bridges said. “So I wanted to go out there and be aggressive from the jump and T-Ro started being aggressive and Gordon (Hayward), so it was like a domino effect.”
Bridges started the second quarter on the bench and the Knicks immediately ran off seven straight points to get within four. The Hornets called time, put Bridges back in after barely a two-minute break, and quickly regained control.
Bridges had the last three baskets of an 8-0 run that extended the lead to 45-33, a lead that grew to 18 at halftime after Rozier made 3-pointers for their final two baskets.
“I think if you look at, honestly, the rest of the game, especially in the second half, we played well,” Barrett said, noting the Knicks held the Hornets to 35 points after halftime.
“So it was really just that first half, especially that first quarter.”
Bridges, who shot 14 for 20, made a 3-pointer late in the third that gave Charlotte its biggest lead at 86-63. He got the basket that tied his previous high of 35 in the fourth quarter with a spectacular baseline drive and reverse scoop that had teammates grinning.
Hornets: Hayward scored 16 points. .... Bridges has seven 30-point games this season. He had three in his first three seasons. ... Kelly Oubre was out because of health and safety protocols.
Knicks: Point guard Kemba Walker missed his ninth straight game with a sore left knee. ... Coach Tom Thibodeau celebrated his 64th birthday. ... Mayor Eric Adams addressed the crowd on Martin Luther King Jr. Day before the game, saying that just as “Dr. King wanted the ball in his hands" during the civil rights movement, New Yorkers wanted it now to lead the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. “Let’s win this for Team New York and Team America,” Adams said.
The Hornets said that Bridges was just the fourth Charlotte player in the last 25 years with at least 28 points in a first half, and two have come against the Knicks in the last two seasons.
Hayward also had 28 against New York in Charlotte on Jan. 11, 2021. Walker had 35 against Memphis on March 22, 2018, while Glen Rice had 28 against Phoenix on Feb. 19, 1997.
Hornets: Visit Boston on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host Minnesota on Tuesday.
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