NBA Basketball

Kanter not giving up as Knicks host Hornets

The New York Knicks' Saturday night matchup with the visiting Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden will be a battle between two centers of attention who are getting that attention for very different reasons at the moment.

Charlotte's Dwight Howard is in the midst of perhaps his best stretch in a half-dozen years, regaining the form of his youth with three 30-point games in the last 10 days, including a 33-point performance in a 129-117 win over his former team, the Atlanta Hawks, on Thursday. Howard also scored 30 on March 10 against the Phoenix Suns and 30 against Philadelphia on March 6 in a loss to Philadelphia. Since the loss to the 76ers Howard is 53-for-72 from the field.

Howard, in his 14th NBA season, said his offseason trade from the Hawks to the Hornets has reinvigorated him.

"It motivated me to just come back this season with a different mindset," he said. "Play with more confidence and stuff like that, so thank you, Bud."

Howard was referring to Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks coach.

New York center Enes Kanter, meanwhile, made the news on Friday for questioning his team's strategy of turning over the minutes to youngsters like Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, whose play has been less-than-inspiring.

Kanter ranted to reporters at Knicks practice on Friday, making his intentions known that he wants to win now, even if New York -- losers of nine straight and 17 of 18 -- isn't interested in beating other teams.

"Let me tell you something -- they can develop guys in the G League," Kanter told reporters. "This is not the time to develop young guys because we're trying to win games here.

"This team is paying us a lot of money, everybody, and all the fans are paying a lot money to watch the games. ... They're not just coming here watching, 'Oh, this guy's getting better. This guy's developing.' No, we're trying to win games here."

With Kristaps Porzingis out for the season with a torn ACL, and the postseason out of reach, the Knicks benched veteran Jarret Jack and handed the reigns to Mudiay.

Kanter might be a little frustrated because of a lack of playing time. Coach Jeff Hornacek has sat Kanter in the fourth quarter during the losing streak and used veteran Kyle O'Quinn.

It's clear by Kanter's play, at least on the glass, that he's not about to stop trying now.

Kanter is averaging 10.8 rebounds for the season but 12.3 in March, including 25 in the last two games. He's also averaging 14.1 points per game.

"The Knicks are paying me money to win games, to go out there and compete and try to win every game. The Knicks are not paying me to tank or anything," Kanter said. "So my mindset is to go out there, it doesn't matter if we play the worst team or the best team.

"I didn't get traded here to get a good draft pick. I came here to win games and make the playoffs. So I don't care, we're in whatever stretch we're in right now, I'm just going to go out there and fight every possession."

The Knicks are 24-45.

The last time New York won, one of those young players who is getting more time, guard Trey Burke, came off the bench and scored 26 points on Feb. 22 in a win against Orlando.

Updated March 16, 2018

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