Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks (9-7) won’t let Sunday’s stunning last-seconds loss to the Phoenix Suns get them down against the Hornets on Tuesday. Or, rather, they can’t let it.

Tuesday’s home tilt with the struggling Charlotte Hornets (5-10) marks the final round of group play in the NBA In-Season Tournament. The Knicks are 2-1 in East B following a stunning comeback over the rival Heat on Friday.

And if they beat shorthanded Charlotte, it’s off to the knockout round.

Time: Tuesday Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m. ET


Injuries: Nick Richards (Concussion, OUT), LaMelo Ball (Ankle, doubtful), Frank Ntilikina (Lower leg, OUT)

Betting Line: Knicks -12, Over/Under 221 via DraftKings

Key Storyline: Can the Knicks finish the job? Everything is set up for the Knicks to win this game. Not only are the Hornets unlikely to have LaMelo Ball, but New York has handily beat them in two games so far. Now add a fired up Madison Square Garden crowd watching a regular season game that, oddly enough, actually means something in November.

Coming back from a 21-point deficit to beat Miami on Friday shows these Knicks are motivated in the tournament. They should come out swinging early tonight.

Key Matchup: Quentin Grimes vs. Terry Rozier. No LaMelo means Charlotte will lean heavily on Rozier, who’s only just come back from a sore groin. He’s averaging 22 points and 5.7 assists per game, though his three-point shooting continues to decline. That’s a small concern for the Hornets if they need him to lead the offense for an extended stretch.

In the meantime, Grimes’ job will be the same as when he guards any other team’s best player: Shut it down. Rozier is a key piece of the Hornets’ offense and probably the go-to guy in Ball’s absence. Expect Grimes to be glued to him all game.

X-Factor: Julius Randle. Long story short, the Knicks need to dominate the Hornets in this game. That means Randle must have his way in the paint matched up against Hornets 4 Miles Bridges. Randle scored 28 points against Phoenix on Sunday and is averaging 23.2 in his last ten games. He’s also a stronger, stouter 6-foot-9 compared to the faster, more athletic Bridges at 6-foot-7.

Even with the Knicks favored to win, they’ll have a much easier time if Julius Randle can be a straight bully in the paint and mid-range.

Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), Quentin Grimes (SG), RJ Barrett (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)

Hornets predicted starters: Ish Smith (PG), Terry Rozier (SG), Gordon Hayward (SF), Miles Bridges (PF), Mark Williams (C)

Prediction: This is the Knicks’ game to lose. And with their tournament life at stake, they won’t. The Garden Faithful will be at full volume from tip-off and New York will rally off of the playoff energy…in November. Knicks beat Hornets 120-102.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.