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Nets almost joked and choked too much on April Fools Day, but Lopez saves the day; 100-98

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets were flabbergasted when the NBA told them their opponent for the night wasn't an April Fools joke. No matter, though, as Deron Williams was pranking and the Knicks were tanking, after Brooklyn defeated Manhattan, 100-98, sweeping the season series in the battle of the boroughs.

The Nets notched their fifth straight win and their ninth win in the last 10 games, the hottest in the Eastern Conference.

It was 98-98 with the Nets owning possession with 14 seconds remaining. Deron Williams penetrated to the hole, missed the shot but Brook Lopez, the birthday boy himself, grabbed the offensive rebound and put home the game-winning shot with two seconds remaining. The leader.

"It's great. New York didn't give up," Lopez said after the game. "They kept fighting so we had to stick with it. It is something we wouldn't have done earlier in the season. We have to keep going and not rest at all."

The Knicks outscored the Nets 27-15 in the fourth quarter. Luckily the Nets ended it with authority.

"We ran a pick-and-roll," Hollins said of the last play. "We had Joe Johnson up above and I thought that if the Knick left him, Joe might get a wide open three. But, Deron went left. We right, left and right again and got to the basket and haf a little floater that didn't go. Brook tipped it. Missed the first, got the second and that was the ballgame."

That was the ballgame indeed. Like Hollins said, the tip in doesn't happen if Deron Williams doesn't work his way into the paint. His night proved to be much more than just that one play.

It may've been Brook Lopez's birthday, but Deron Williams was the wrecking machine as he usually is at Madison Square Garden. He went off for 26 points, five assists, six rebounds and one steal on 11-of-19 shooting. The Knicks really had no answer for Williams, who frolicked through the paint at will and took advantage of every opposing defender Manhattan threw at him.

The Knicks put up a good fight in the first half with Andrei Bargnani leading the pack. They trailed by only five at the half, but the Nets jumped out to a 12-2 run early in the second half, giving them a 16-point lead and a clearing the way for a Brooklyn beat down.

Not so fast, though.

The Knicks cut the deficit down to four midway through the fourth quarter after the Nets' second unit failed to carry the starters' load. It's been a theme throughout the season -- and one we saw recently --  Tuesday night to be exact, after the Nets opened up the first quarter with a 19-point lead that quickly disappeared when the second unit came in.

Brooklyn's fatigue set in, and suddenly the offensive sets became stagnant and the defense looked flat-footed. The Knicks instantly went on a 22-9 run to cut the deficit down to one. The Nets were held scoreless for three minutes in the quarter, allowing the Knicks to stay within reach then eventually tie the game at 98 apiece with one minute remaining.

The Nets prevailed, however, very luckily.

The Knicks bench outscored the Nets bench 48-21, with Cleanthony Early scoring 14, Ricky Ledo scoring 13 and Quincy Acy scoring 12.

As for the starters, Brook Lopez went off for 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, while Markel Brown chipped in 14 and Thaddeus Young with 12. Joe Johnson scored only nine points on nine shots attempted. He was the only starter that didn't finish in double figures.

The Nets shot 50.6% from the field and an incredible 56.3% from three. They also committed only 10 turnovers and scored 52 points in the paint.

Similar to what we saw against Boston with Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, big men that can hit the pick and pop have given the Nets issues. Wednesday night, it was Andrea Bargnani who did so, scoring 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Langston Galloway also chipped in 13 points, the only other starter to score in double digits.

The Nets will face off against the Toronto Raptors this Friday, owning the eighth seed for right now with Boston trailing by just a half-game. Again, from NetsDaily and the Brooklyn Game, we appreciate all who played a role in the #BK4JEFF movement here. He would've been thrilled to see this victory.

"I don't go back and look at why we were losing. All I know is why we're winning now. That's because we're playing much better. Much harder and more together," Lionel said afterwards.

For more on the New York Knicks, check them out at Posting and Toasting.