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Hornets-Knicks Preview

Nov 2, 2009 - 4:53 AM By MATT BEARDMORE STATS Writer

New Orleans (1-1) at New York (0-3), 7:30 p.m. EDT

The New York Knicks have lost their last two games despite rallying to force overtime in each one. Avoiding early deficits might finally help them get their first win.

The Knicks look to avoid their first 0-4 start in four seasons Monday night when they host a New Orleans Hornets team coming off an emotional loss.

Outscored by an average of 17.0 points in the first quarter of its last two games, New York (0-3) has managed to fight back into both with big fourth quarters. The Knicks outscored the Charlotte 27-13 in the fourth to force overtime Friday night, then had a 41-26 advantage in the final quarter against Philadelphia on Saturday.

However, the Knicks ran out of steam and lost both games. They fell 102-100 in double-overtime to the Bobcats and got outscored 19-5 in the extra session to lose 141-127 to the 76ers.

"Last year we would struggle away through third quarter but this year we struggle with our first quarter," forward Al Harrington said. "We got to find a way to fight through this."

Harrington did his part Saturday. With Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni giving second-year forward Danilo Gallinari his third career start, Harrington came off the bench for the first time this season and hit 16 of 22 shots for a career-high 42 points.

It was the most points ever by a Knicks reserve.

"If coach wants me to come off the bench, I'm going to be the best at it," Harrington told the Knicks' official Web site.

Coming off the bench at New Orleans on Jan. 12, Harrington had 20 points and 10 rebounds to help the Knicks snap a seven-game slide against the Hornets with a 101-95 victory.

Harrington hit five 3-pointers and scored a team-high 23 in a 103-93 win over New Orleans on March 27, giving the Knicks their first season sweep of the Hornets franchise since winning all four matchups against Charlotte in 1991-92.

New Orleans (1-2), which is looking to avoid its first 0-3 start on the road since 1999-2000, is finishing its first set of back-to-back games after falling 97-87 at Boston on Sunday.

Chris Paul scored 22 points and handed out eight assists, but the postgame discussion revolved around his matchup with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

Paul and Rondo picked up technical fouls in the second quarter after getting tied up under the basket. After the game ended, Paul followed Rondo toward the locker room and had to be stopped by Celtics assistant coaches.

Paul said Rondo was lucky to play with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, then said the comment wasn't a slight toward Rondo.

"He is a great point guard and he's a champion," Paul said. "It's my hope to achieve that."

Paul, averaging 24.0 points and 9.8 assists in four career games at Madison Square Garden, has yet to record a 10-assist game this season. He opened 2008-09 with seven straight double-digit assist performances.

First-year Hornet Emeka Okafor missed his third straight double-double Sunday with five points and 10 rebounds.

Playing for Charlotte last season, Okafor averaged 14.0 points and 10.0 boards in two games at New York.

Peja Stojakovic hit six 3-pointers and scored 26 points as the Hornets went 13 of 28 from long distance Sunday.

Gallinari has been New York's best shooter from behind the arc. He made eight 3s en route to a career-high 30 points Saturday, and he's gone 18 for 36 from 3-point range this season.