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Nets fail to capitalize late against Knicks, 111-104

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NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — “It’s different. I’m not going to say it’s just another game. It’s New York,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said on Wednesday. “It’s Mets-Yankees, Giants-Jets. I think it’s cool for the fans and for us.”

He’s right, and for the first time in a long time, the ‘Battle of the Boroughs’ finally meant something. The Nets entered Thursday night’s game back just 2.5 games from the eighth-seed Knicks – two in the loss column.

But the Nets exited Barclays Center three games back in the loss column with a 111-104 loss to the Knicks (15-13). Fans in blue-and-orange once again took over Barclays Center as “Lets go Knicks” chants echoed throughout the arena.

And no, Jahlil Okafor did not play. They could’ve used him after scoring just 22 points in the fourth quarter. They also could have used Allen Crabbe who had knee soreness and a 1-of-7 line from three, 4-of-21 in the last two games.

“Just the ball not going in for us right now. Just one of those stretches. We will be better, though. That is the good thing about the league, you get another one next day. So hopefully things turn around for us,” said Crabbe after the game.

“We're gonna watch film and we're probably get in a lot of trouble, there's probably gonna be a lot of hollering,” said DeMarre Carroll, who attributed the loss to Brooklyn’s lack of rebounding and physicality.

The Knicks took control of this game in the second quarter, when they dominated in every aspect of the game and out-scored Brooklyn, 31-24, owning a 13-point lead at half. They led by as many as 17 with Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter leading the way.

It felt a lot worse than it was, but you know the saying by now: The Nets kept fighting. They are, after all, the second best offensive team in second halves this season, averaging 56.5 points in the final 24 minutes.

And just like that, the Nets answered with a 25-10 advantage to start the third quarter, helped by Porzingis’ exit with 9:55 to go in the third. They turned a 17-point deficit into a four-point lead with 4:53 left. But the Knicks responded even without their star and took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Still, Brooklyn failed to capitalize. The Nets turned the ball over six times in the fourth and it hurt them down the stretch. What really did them in, however, was their inability to come up with defensive stops late in the game.

Here was the final sequence:

  • The Knicks nailed a 3-pointer to go up 100-92 with 4:20 remaining.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie answered with an and-one and cut the deficit down to five, 100-95.
  • Nets made a stop, missed but DeMarre Carroll grabbed an offensive board and put-back, 100-97.
  • Frank Ntilikina answered with a wide-open 3-pointer, 103-97.
  • Nets failed to execute, and Lance Thomas hit the dagger 3-pointer to go up nine with 1:06 remaining.

....Sigh.

The Nets made just two more 3-pointers than the Knicks (12) despite taking 22 more attempts on the night (42).

“Obviously we didn’t shoot it well, but credit to their defense, said Atkinson post-game. “I thought a lot of our shots were contested, they were running us off the line and we were shooting those pull-ups off the dribble, which are much tougher shots, but I think they did a good job of contesting the 3-point line.

“I thought we could have drove it more. I don’t know what our drive numbers were. I don’t think we got to the rim enough, especially when (Kristaps) Porzingis went out. We should have been at the rim more.”

Did the Nets settle too much for deep shots? Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t think so.

“No, we have a certain play style and we’re going to do that. We have great confidence in all our guys as shooters and when you don’t make shots it’s easy, hindsight is 20/20, but we have confidence in those guys and our teammates.”

Courtney Lee anchored New York with 27 points, followed by 13 points and nine rebounds from Enes Kanter.

For Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie recorded a career-high 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also recorded a career-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Caris LeVert was solid off the bench again with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. However, LeVert had a game worst -20 plus/minus rating.

Jarrett Allen seemed to take a step back against New York’s strong frontline and finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting, one rebound and three fouls in 10 minutes.

It was a disappointing loss for Brooklyn, with Tim Hardaway Jr. sitting out and Porzingis leaving early, but they’ll have a chance to make up for it tomorrow against the Raptors. And of course, the Nets are missing Jeremy Lin for the season and D’Angelo Russell for an extended period.

“It’s going to be an exciting game for sure,” said Carroll when asked about tomorrow’s game against his former team.

SPENCER DINWIDDIE IS LEGIT

Heading into Thursday’s game, Spencer Dinwiddie has been averaging 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and just 1.5 turnovers in 15 games as a started. He's first in assist-turnover ratio in NBA, one spot ahead of Chris Paul, and second in the league for most consecutive games with six or more assists, behind only James Harden. The Nets are also 13.4 points BETTER with Dinwiddie on the floor. After him? Tyler Zeller (6.5 points).

...SO IS RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON

He played a solid game, not only scoring 25 points, the career high we mentioned, but also had four steals, three assists, seven rebounds and two blocks. For the month, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and a block, shooting 47.4 percent overall and 37.5 percent from deep. And yes, he’s still only 22.