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With New York Knicks reeling, Brooklyn Nets want to shed "JV" image

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USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks have lost three straight and started Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland, Kurt Thomas and Kenyon Martin Thursday night in Portland. Carmelo Anthony was back in New York getting his knee drained, Amare Stoudemire was starting a long rehab after his knee surgery and Tyson Chandler was recuperating from a bone bruise in his knee. The Knicks are knock-kneed.

And so, the Knicks are dropping in the division, their lead is now a single game, down from six games on December 19, when they blew out Nets at Madison Square Garden. With all that in mind, the Nets are, despite themselves, thinking about a division title ... and losing the team's second-class status.

"You can say we've been the JV at times," Deron Williams said.

"I understand how the fans feel about the Nets and the Knicks, so I know how important it is," Joe Johnson added, adding that he checks the standings "quite often." After all, it was JJ who said back in July that he believed the Nets were the better team in New York.