BROOKLYN - If someone would have said in August that the Nets and Knicks would be chasing the first place Boston Celtics in the league's worst division, they would have been called crazy.
However, that is the harsh reality, and the Battle of New York has become a battle of pride.
Well, whatever pride the Nets had left from their poor start to the season was lost after tonight. Brooklyn trailed the entire game. Even though they cut the lead three in the first quarter, they were unable to overcome the Knicks great three-point shooting, and their third quarter issues. An embarrassing second half led to their 113-83 loss.
It seemed that the Knicks were more similar to their 54-win team of last season rather than their 3-win team of this season as they came out firing from all cylinders. It started with the first possession of the game when Andrea Bargnani blocked Brook Lopez in the paint. What followed that was a barrage of wild Knick shots that seemed errant, but went through the net every time. New York shot 70% from the field and four-of-seven from the three-point line. Bargnani led the Knicks first quarter offensive assault, scoring nine points, hitting on all four of his shots. For the Nets, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson led the way with eight points each. Lopez was constantly crashing the glass, grabbing an astounding seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter.
Overall, it wasn't pretty. The Nets trailed by as much as 15, but a late spurt had cut the Knicks lead to six going into the second.
The second quarter was more of the same basketball. The Knicks hot shooting cooled off, they shot 47% from the field in the second, and the Nets got themselves back in the game by shooting 57% from the floor. The Nets finally realized in the second quarter that the Knicks are not very talented at defending the pick-and-roll, which led to their comeback that saw the Nets come as close as three. However, their poor three-point shooting, two-of-seven, helped the Knicks carry a seven-point lead going into the half. Lopez was the only Net in double figures by halftime, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Like the first half, the Nets were unable to stop the Knicks three-point shooting in the second half, falling behind by 11 once again halfway through the third.
After a Nets timeout, it got worse. The Knicks pushed their lead to as much as 25. The Nets' third quarter woes were apparent once again; they failed to match the intensity that the Knicks had. New York got their best from Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony in the third from, the two of them outscoring the Nets 21-16 in the third quarter. Shumpert had a stretch where he hit three three's in a row that blew the gate wide open. After that, Melo paced the Knicks, scoring 11 in the quarter. For the Nets not one player scored more than four points, and they shot 27% from the floor while allowing the Knicks to shoot 60% from the field. It was so bad that, "This is our house," chants came out from the upper deck during the third.
The fourth quarter doesn't need much analysis, but that it was sad.
The Nets trailed by as much as 34, never got within 25, and officially became the laughing stock of the league in the process. At the 9-minute mark of the fourth quarter Andrea Bargnani and Kevin Garnett got into a scrum, but it wasn't what one would think. Garnett pushed Bargnani to the floor going up for a rebound, but Bargnani pulled him down leading to the two having a stand-off and sharing some words. Garnett surprisingly kept his cool during the ordeal and it seemed that Bargnani was the aggressor in this scenario. Each received a technical for the scuffle. Only two Nets broke double digits and as a team they shot 38%. The Nets defense was what led to them getting blown off their own court, the Knicks shot 57% as a team, hitting 16 of their 27 threes.
The Nets now fall to 5-14 on the season and travel to Milwaukee where they take on the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
For more on the Knicks, see: Posting and Toasting