CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe there are just no storybook endings left in this Knicks’ season.
With RJ Barrett struggling immensely, forgotten man Allonzo Trier came off the bench midway through the third quarter with the Knicks down 13.
Trier led a fiery comeback, getting the Knicks within two points in the closing minutes but couldn’t sink the potential game-tying 3-pointer with 56 seconds left as the Knicks fell to the Hornets, 107-101, Wednesday at Spectrum Center.
Asked if it’s tough to sit the first 34 minutes, Trier said, “Absolutely. You got to come in and catch the flow. Sometimes you don’t and you look bad. You got to be a pro.
“It was great to be running around being in the game. I’ve played my whole life to be in this position.”
It was the Knicks’ fifth straight loss to drop them to 17-41. They trailed the entire second half, but Trier, the second-year man who mysteriously has been out of the rotation virtually all season, pumped in 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting in his 16 minutes.
Interim coach Mike Miller was desperate for scoring as Barrett had a terrible night. The rookie finished with five points on 2 of 11 shooting and was benched in the final period in favor of Trier.
Trier drove baseline and scored despite contact to make it 97-95 with 2:43 left and hit another 20-footer to get the Knicks within 100-97 with 1:14 left.
But with a chance to tie, Trier’s corner 3 bounced off the rim. The Knicks were still down just 3 when starting point guard Elfrid Payton, who also had a miserable game, turned the ball over on a drive with 35 seconds left. Ballgame.
Barrett had one of his roughest first halves of the season — going scoreless on 0 for 6 from the field. He missed both his 3-pointers, including an airball on a corner attempt.
His touches were down with Payton at point guard and Barrett’s defense also got lax. Barrett failed to get after Charlotte point guard Terry Rozier, who buried an open 3.
The Hornets gained control in the second period and took a 56-46 lead at halftime. Rozier (26 points) was electric, finishing with 16 first-half points, making all four of his 3-pointers, as the Hornets broke a 45-45 tie midway through the second quarter to embark on an 11-1 sprint.
Carolina native Dennis Smith Jr., who played at North Carolina State, was terrific in his first minutes of the night, getting to the rack at will and throwing down a monster tomahawk jam. He also picked up a terrific assist when he slashed into the paint and dished to Bobby Portis (17 points) for a corner 3.
Smith struggled in his second time in the game and was 2 of 8 from the field at intermission. With Payton in foul trouble, Smith played 21 minutes and was 4 of 12 from the field for nine points and three assists.
Barrett missed a short jumper at the elbow to start the third quarter to fall to 0 for 7. But on the next possession, he drained a left-wing 3 with 10:54 left to get him off the schneid.
The Knicks started the second half on a 7 -0 run to get within three points but Charlotte withstood the charge. Miles Bridges, whom the Knicks could have selected at No. 9 in the 2018 draft, threw down a vicious putback dunk, outleaping Moe Harkless, delighting the small crowd.
It was not the Knicks’ night. Julius Randle made a hustling save of a ball out of bounds but he directed it Charlotte’s Cody Martin who slammed it home midway through the third quarter to give the Hornets a 15-point lead.
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