CHARLOTTE -- All eyes will be on the Charlotte bench on Friday night when the streaking Hornets host the tail-spinning New York Knicks.
Hornets reserve Malik Monk earned the national spotlight Wednesday night when he twice got bopped on the back of the head by team owner Michael Jordan for prematurely celebrating what turned out to be a 108-107 home win over Detroit.
Monk and fellow reserve Bismack Biyombo ran onto the court after teammate Jeremy Lamb had hit what appeared in their minds to be a game-winning jumper, only to be informed that there were still three-tenths of a second remaining.
The Charlotte bench was assessed a technical foul, which the Pistons converted to get within one point, before failing on a desperation attempt at the buzzer.
Jordan, seated at courtside, was then seen on Charlotte television station WCCB gently slapping Monk on the head for his part in potentially blowing the game.
"It was a tap of endearment -- I didn't mean to project anything other than that," Jordan felt compelled to announce through a spokesperson in the wake of the incident having made national news. "It was like a big brother-and-little brother tap. No negative intent -- only love!"
Monk had contributed seven points to the win. He had nine off the bench when the Hornets won 119-107 at New York on Sunday.
That win was part of Charlotte's current three-game winning streak, and the Knicks' current five-game skid.
New York began a three-game trip with a 113-106 loss at Cleveland on Wednesday.
On their day off Thursday, the Knicks gave their fans a bit of good news when they locked up promising two-way player Allonzo Trier to a restructured contract that runs through the end of next season.
Trier, who had a controversial college career at Arizona, went undrafted in June, then received only a two-way offer from the Knicks.
Under rules of that agreement, the rookie was allowed to spend no more than 45 days this season with the Knicks. With that allotment about to be exhausted next week, the club elected to redo his deal, which will allow him to finish the season with the team.
Trier, who currently is out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, ranks fifth on the Knicks in scoring at 11.3 points per game and third in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.1.
To make room for Trier, the Knicks waived Ron Baker, a move that saddened New York coach David Fizdale.
"It's always the toughest part of the business, anything you have to make a decision about a young man's career," Fizdale told reporters Thursday. "It's not always that you are not good enough. It's not that situation at all. Especially not this group. That's a tough part of our business."
Baker came off the bench to score five points in nine minutes in the loss to Charlotte on Sunday. It was his first action since Nov. 28.
Two of Trier's fellow rookies -- first-round pick Kevin Knox (26 points) and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson (six) -- contributed 32 points to Sunday's loss.