Final: New York Knicks outclass Brooklyn Nets 100-86

Al Bello

With a little less than 7 minutes left in the third quarter, a red-hot Deron Williams drained a pullup jumper to give the Nets a four point lead. With a little under 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter, a red-hot Carmelo Anthony drained a jumper to give the Knicks an 18 point lead as they cruised to victory tonight in Madison Square Garden.

The game started very competitively, with neither team amassing more than a four point advantage until late in the third quarter. However, as the Knicks continued to get easy scores from Tyson Chandler and Anthony started to heat up, the Nets seemed to lose their offensive flow. The jump shots they were making earlier in the game stopped falling, yet the Nets kept shooting - earning just two trips to the line in the second half (none in the third quarter).

"This game got away from us a little bit there in the fourth quarter - at the end of the third," said coach Avery Johnson. "Carmelo is playing at a real high level. He's at another planet right now."

Anthony visited this planet to lead the Knicks with 31 points. Chandler added 16 points and 12 rebounds with several rim-rattling dunks - including a soul-crushing alley-oop delivered by Pablo Prigioni to give the Knicks a 10 point lead from which the Nets never recovered.

"Chandler got away from us a couple times on the lobs, which really hurt us." added Coach Johnson.

J.R. Smith played heavy minutes off the bench, shooting 7-11 from the field and 4-4 from the line for 19 efficient points.

"We played pretty good in the first half, but in the third and fourth quarters, for whatever reason we're just not bringing it or we're not running our sets and defensively we're not sticking to our principles and it's hurting us." said a dejected Joe Johnson.

The Nets were led by Joe Johnson's 17, most of which were amassed during a hot start. Johnson wound up shooting 5-14 and was generally a non-factor in the second half. Deron Williams, on the other hand, reversed a trend by shooting well - going 7-12 and contributing 16 points and 10 assists including the aforementioned third quarter run. Keith Bogans shook off his scoring slump, nailing his first four shots (including three triples). He did miss his last two at crucial times, though, as the Knicks were widening their lead.

The loss takes the Nets to 13-12, tied with the Celtics for 7th place in the conference and one game ahead of the 76ers and Magic for the final playoff spot. The Knicks remain atop the East at 19-6, 1.5 games clear of the Miami Heat.

Quick Notes:

- The Nets' defense seemed to regress a bit in this game. Tyson Chandler spent a lot of time at the rim, dunking with reckless abandon with no defenders in sight. Smith and Anthony didn't work all that hard to get open, either. The Nets had been playing with a lot of energy recently, but they never got it going tonight. Gerald Wallace looked a little tired, and that might have had a lot to do with things.

- The Nets shot 6-9 from the line. The Knicks were 13-17.

- Surprisingly, the Nets were a little better than the Knicks from long range, shooting 10-25 to the Knicks' 11-29.

- Lopez played 28:35 as he recovers from his foot injury. Garbage time helped keep his minutes down.

- Brooklyn has lost three straight and 8 of 10.

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