New York Knicks-Charlotte Hornets: Matchup to watch
Nov 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) dribbles past Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks play the Charlotte Hornets Friday night in the first game of a back-to-back, home-and-home set. Check out these matchups.

The New York Knicks (7-7) lost 3 out of 4 matchups against the Charlotte Hornets (8-6) last season. They were overmatched by a team that was well coached and played elite defense. The Knicks are bringing a much stronger roster this time.

One matchup in particular sticks out. It’s at the always important point guard position.

Hornets point guard and Bronx native Kemba Walker has killed the Knicks in his career. Whenever he returns to New York City, Walkers punishes the home fans with a tremendous performance.

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In 8 career games at MSG, Walker is averaging 20.9 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals, on a slash line of .479/.500/.810.

That includes a 34 point game last season when he hit 7 threes en route to a blowout Hornets win.

Walker is having his best season and is pushing for an All-Star spot. During his career, Walker is a 40.6% shooter and a 33.9% shooter from downtown. But through the Hornets first 14 games he’s averaging 24.8 points on 47.4% shooting from the field and 43.8% from downtown.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe praised Walker’s work ethic and the Hornets wise decision to extend his contract.

Walker is currently on a 4-year, $48 million contract and he’s signed through the 2018-19 season. Easily one of, if not, the best deals in the NBA.

Walker’s counterpart tonight is Derrick Rose. The Knicks point guard has surpassed expectations so far and shown flashes of his old self.

He’s been aggressive and attacking the rim but recently more selective with his shot attempts. Rose was criticized last season for his low pass percentage (23.3%) in comparison to his large number of drives (8.9).

That’s not the case this year, as he’s adapted to playing with superior talents while the season has progressed. Per, Rose is tied for 14th in drives per game (9.8) and has a high pass percentage of 30.7%.

The 28-year-old is still struggling with his jump shot. He’s shooting less than 30% on 3-pointers and long twos (via Bball-ref) but is still averaging 15.8 points per game. If he could move those numbers up, a little the Knicks consistently improving offense would be in even better shape.

For now, he has to worry about Kemba. Rose gets plenty of criticism for his defense, and some of it is warranted. But he did a solid job on Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard in the Knicks 107-103 win on Tuesday. Rose held Lillard to 22 points on just 8-18 shooting.

The Hornets have the edge between the two point guards. Walker is on his way towards being an All-Star and Rose is still getting used to his new team. Even he freely admits that he’ll never be his MVP self again. The Knicks aren’t asking for that though. They just need him to slow Kemba down. Like he did against Lillard.

Easier said than done.

The Hornets have lost three games in a row and the Knicks are coming off back to back huge wins against the Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks.

Every home game is a big one for the Knicks, but the Hornets want to snap that streak.

Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.

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I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.