Al Harrington scored 23 points, David Lee added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Knicks snapped a six-game losing streak Friday with a 103-93 victory over the frustrated Hornets, who were hit with two technicals and an ejection in the fourth quarter.
"I just think if we would have come out with that type of passion in the third quarter, then we would have won the game," said Hornets coach Byron Scott, adding it was a "terrible" loss for a team in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.
Chris Duhon and Wilson Chandler each scored 15 for the Knicks, who are still mathematically alive for the playoffs but realistically blew their chances for a spot by matching their longest skid of the season.
But they took control by outscoring New Orleans 36-15 in the third quarter, pulled away in the fourth and completed their first sweep of the Hornets since the 1991-92 season, when they won all four while Charlotte was still in the East.
David West scored 29 points for New Orleans, which has lost two in a row following a three-game winning streak. Chris Paul finished with 22 points and 10 assists, but the short-handed Hornets had little help for their two All-Stars.
Things got testy with 8:48 remaining, when Robinson tried to block Paul's shot, fouled and then got tangled up with him. The two little men started jawing, earning both technicals, and Robinson kept trying to get closer to Paul, even as referee Ken Mauer got between them.
"I shot two free throws, we kept moving, they won the game. I guess that makes him the better player," Paul said, growing annoyed at all the questions about the incident. "I don't care, we lost the game. That's not the biggest part of the game, that little exchange right there."
Added Robinson: "Both teams played hard. We got the win. That's the most important thing right now. We're just playing. You know, we're two competitive guys. I mean Chris is a great player honestly. He brings the best out of me. I bring the best out of him."
The Hornets then lost James Posey a few minutes later after he was ejected for throwing the ball at referee Gary Zielinski, hitting him in the right foot, after Zielinski called a foul on the Hornets' swingman.
"It was a bounce pass that hit his foot that came back to me," Posey said. "It goes on a lot at games, guys giving the ball back to the ref, and like I said, if I was to throw it at him, I think I've got better aim than that."
New Orleans was again without center Tyson Chandler, who has been fitted for a walking boot to immobilize his sore left ankle and is expected to miss another week to two weeks. Peja Stojakovic, the Hornets' top outside shooter, is still out with back spasms, and they again struggled from the perimeter without him.
They had a scary-looking play in the third quarter, when Paul tumbled over Harrington while trying to block a shot and landed hard. He quickly got up but seemed to hurt his left elbow.
Lee had four baskets during the Knicks' 10-2 start to the second half that gave them a 52-51 lead a little more than three minutes into the third. Duhon hit two 3-pointers as New York scored eight straight later in the period to make it 67-57, and he made one more and set up Quentin Richardson for another as time expired as the Knicks brought a 77-65 advantage to the fourth.
"I was just able to get open shots," said Duhon, who had been averaging just 7.9 points in March. "My teammates did a good job of finding me in rhythm, and it just went in."
The Hornets trailed by 10 midway through the final quarter, but Duhon made the free throw following Posey's technical, Chandler scored and Duhon made another 3 to extend it to 96-80 with 4½ minutes to play.
West scored 11 points in the first quarter, leading New Orleans to a 26-23 lead. The Hornets pushed the lead into double digits midway through the second with a 10-2 spurt that made it 40-30 on Morris Peterson's 3-pointer, and they settled for a 49-42 halftime advantage.
- The Knicks signed guard Joe Crawford to a 10-day contract Friday. Crawford was averaging 20.8 points for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development League.