Unlikely heroes lead Knicks to shocking overtime victory


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The hip-hop music blared. The ice flew.

This was one happy visitor’s locker room after point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and unlikely center Luke Kornet rallied the Knicks from an awful first half, during which they trailed by 21 points. The Knicks went on to stun Charlotte, 126-124, in overtime Friday night at Spectrum Center to break a five-game losing streak.

Mudiay was flawless after halftime, scoring 29 of his career-high 34 points. Kornet, playing major minutes after rookie center Mitchell Robinson went down with an ankle sprain, struck for a stunning 13 points, three blocks and six rebounds, and was a plus-18 in 24 flawless minutes — all coming in the second half and OT. He was 3-of-5 from 3-point land.

Kornet hadn’t made a 3-pointer this season and his surge kept Enes Kanter on the bench. Afterward, Mudiay and Kornet received ice baths from their jubilant teammates.

“It was cold, too,’’ Mudiay said.

Overtime began with back-to-back 3-point baskets by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kornet, and the Knicks never lost that lead.

Coach David Fizdale came to the postgame press conference, shrugged his shoulders and said before being asked: “I don’t know when they’re going to show up.”

“I love these kids,’’ Fizdale added. “They never cease to amaze me in both ways. Trust me. They do some stuff where I go, ‘What are they doing?’ And they do stuff like this where they don’t quit.”

Mudiay, who has been starting at point guard for the past month, was brilliant, hitting 14-of-21 shots and dishing out eight assists. He, too, was playing major time because Frank Ntilikina suffered a mild ankle sprain in the third quarter and joined Robinson on the shelf.

“It says a lot about this team,’’ said Mudiay, who severely outplayed Hornets free-agent-to-be Kemba Walker in the second half. “We work so hard. We don’t want to just go out there and quit. Just keep pushing and chopping at the tree. I just wanted to win so bad. I knew Frank went out. I think when he went out i had to be more aggressive.’’

Charlotte mashed the Knicks early, taking a 33-16 lead after one and a 72-53 bulge at halftime with a pass-happy offense. During Fizdale’s second timeout to try to stop the bleeding, he wrote “selfish” on the grease board, according to Mudiay.

“He was telling the truth,’’ Mudiay said of Fizdale, who switched to a zone defense in the second half.