On an MLK matinee, the Brooklyn Nets got a gritty win over the New York Knicks, 88-85. This game was close from start to finish – as expected - except for a brief period of the second quarter that saw the Nets balloon the lead to 10. But as the game progressed, it became a game of runs, especially at the end, as the Nets ripped off an 11-2 run, then followed up a 7-0 Knicks run with a 5-1 run to close out the game.
Joe Johnson led the way for the Brooklyn Nets with 25 points, and 3 other Nets notched double-doubles: Deron Williams (14 pts, 12 asts), Kris Humphries (11 pts, 13 rebounds), and Brook Lopez (14 pts, 11 rebounds). Carmelo Anthony added 29 for the Knicks, his 26th consecutive game with 20+ points.
The Nets played sloppy though, committing 19 turnovers and yielding 17 points off of those turnovers. Turnovers were a big reason why the Nets had two scoring droughts of 4+ minutes in the second half, including one towards the end of the game that nearly saw the Nets give the game away. With the game close throughout, the result would come down to the wire. And there was no doubt in that considering what happened the first 3 games in the series.
After a stellar first half performance by Kris Humphries, the second half, namely the 4th quarter, belonged to Joe Johnson. Johnson netted 10 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left. But he also had a couple of back-to-back 3s during the 11-2 Nets run in the 4th to bring the Nets from down 3 to up 6. But the Knicks would rattle off 7 straight points, as the Nets entered the second of two big second-half scoring droughts.
With Brooklyn now down 84-83 with under a minute left, Joe Johnson hit a jumper from mid-range with 22 seconds left, and gave the Nets the lead for good. Deron Williams would hit a few free throws to make it 87-84, and an intentional foul of Jason Kidd would put him on the line to cut the deficit. Kidd would knock down one of two at the line, keeping the Knicks down 2 at 87-85. D-Will would get fouled again, but he’d end his streak of 52 consecutive made free throws when his first one at the line rimmed out. His second fell through, however, giving the Nets an 88-85 advantage.
The game wasn’t over though as the Knicks had 5.2 seconds and only needed a 3 to force overtime. JR Smith took the chance to tie, but the ball would hit off the backboard and then the front of the rim, before bouncing out.
Foul trouble also played a role in this game, as Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace picked up 2 quick fouls, and Amar’e Stoudemire got 3 fouls by the midway point of the 2nd quarter; so both teams saw a lot of bench play and rotations of starters playing other positions. That also contributed to the low score.
With the win, it means Brooklyn earns a split of the season series with the Knicks. Both teams lost a game on their home court and both teams won a game on their home court. It’s a good start to a budding rivalry, but it would be even better if the next chapter could get written in the playoffs.
The road trip continues for the Nets, as they next find themselves in Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Wednesday. The rest of the road trip shakes out as follows:
1/23 @ Minnesota
1/25 @ Memphis
1/26 @ Houston
The Nets are now 11-2 under Carlesimo, and 9-1 in January. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Carlesimo taking over with his prior coaching resume not being so stellar, but he has done a masterful job maximizing the talent on this team so far. If this keeps up, this next stretch of games, which see the Heat, Bulls, and Lakers all at home after their road trip, could be a lot easier.