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The Charlotte Hornets took a trip to Madison Square Garden on Monday, where they met the New York Knicks for a little afternoon basketball on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Despite the early start, the Hornets were ready to go from the opening tip and needed just a few minutes to build a double-digit lead -- a gap they maintained for nearly the entire game as they cruised to a 97-87 win. 

They had such an easy time, thanks in large part to Miles Bridges. With star point guard LaMelo Ball sidelined due to illness, Bridges stepped up and poured in 22 points in the first quarter alone to get the Hornets off to a great start. He kept things rolling from there, and finished with a career-high 38 points on 14 of 20 from the field, 12 rebounds and five assists. 

After a shooting slump that lasted nearly two months, Bridges has recently found his form from the outside again. Including his 5-of-9 outing against the Knicks, Bridges is now shooting 37.5 percent on 3-pointers since the calendar flipped to 2022, which is great news for him and the Hornets. When he's knocking down shots from the outside, it makes everything easier. 

But while Bridges' shot has come and gone at times this season, he's never stopped being a threat at the rim. That was true once again on Monday, when he went a perfect 8 of 8 in the restricted area. His combination of strength and athleticism makes him a tough cover for most teams. Put a smaller player on him and he'll bully his way to the rim; try a bigger defender and Bridges will use his quickness. And once he gets around the basket, he can leap and contort his body for acrobatic finishes. For the season, he's shooting 66.8 percent in the restricted area, per NBA.com.

Miles Bridges
CHA • PF • 0
PPG19.6
RPG7.2
APG3.6
SPG1.12
3P/G1.902
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Averaging 19.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals entering Monday's game, Bridges is putting up career-highs across the board. Both in terms of numbers and impact on winning -- his plus-9 net rating differential is the best on the Hornets by a wide margin -- this is by far his best season in the league. Bridges making a leap is a major reason why the Hornets are seventh in the Eastern Conference at 24-20, and have a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. 

All told, Bridges is making a strong case that he should be this season's Most Improved Player. With more performances like the one against the Knicks, he just might take home that trophy.