Ewing was substituting for Bobcats Coach Steve Clifford, who checked himself into a hospital Thursday night with chest pain and had a procedure to place two stents in his heart on Friday.
"I was nervous at first but once the game started I was able to calm down and do my thing," said Ewing, who was hired by Clifford as associate head coach. "Unfortunately I didn't get my first win."
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Charlotte, which had beaten the Knicks, 102-97, on Tuesday. The Bobcats fall to 3-3 on the season while New York, which snapped a three-game losing streak, is 2-3.
Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker said the players' lack of energy was to blame for the loss, not Ewing's coaching ability.
"Our energy level from the get-go wasn't so great," said Walker, who led Charlotte with 25 points. "I thought [Ewing] did great. It was us, the players. We are the ones on the court out there playing. We just have to pick up the intensity."
Ewing did find it ironic that he made his coaching debut against the Knicks, but he made sure to get some advice before the game.
"I talked to a few of my friends, and Jeff Van Gundy’s one of them,” Ewing said of his former coach with the Knicks. “So he’s like, 'Just take your time. Take a deep breath, and relax. You’ll be fine.'
“It’s ironic that my first chance to be a head coach is against a team I played 15 years for."
Wire service and Internet reports contributed to this story.