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Same ol’ story: Nets blow it in fourth as Knicks take over Barclays, 95-90

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

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — During the inaugural year in Brooklyn, the Nets and Knicks were set to open up the Barclays Center. That was up until Hurricane Sandy hit and postponed the game to a later date. Five years later, both teams are below .500 with the Knicks holding onto playoff hopes and the Nets simply hoping to get a win.

Call it a perfect storm.

Regardless of what you might call, perhaps an omen, Nets and Knicks remains a special rivalry game between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The two teams faced off and boy was it ugly. The Knicks (22-29) extended the Nets (9-40) losing streak to seven, 95-90, Wednesday night at Barclays. FINALLY the Nets gave a gritty, gritty defensive effort, but like usual they collapsed late in the game.

“They picked up their intensity, picked up their heat, picked up their heat on the ball,” Kenny Atkinson said of the fourth quarter. “It’s tough to give any team in the NBA multiple shots at the rim, multiple possessions, and so I think that’s the story of the game really, story of the fourth quarter — us turning it over, and then not being able to control the defensive boards.

“I’d say we’re off-Broadway right now, and we’re trying to get on,” Atkinson added. “We know it’s a long road and a difficult road, but we’re trying to get in that conversation, in the New York conversation.”

They held the Knicks to season-lows through the first three quarters, but surrendered 31 points in the fourth quarter while scoring only 21. Believe it or not, the key to their loss was STOPPING Carmelo Anthony.

That doesn't make sense, right?

Well, he was 6-of-22 through three quarters when Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek decided to bench him for the fourth. It helped the Knicks and their offense, namely guys like Kristaps Porzingis who scored 12 in the final frame. As a team, they shot 11-of-22 in the fourth.

It was just two games ago that Kenny Atkinson emphasized the importance of increasing the defensive intensity and potentially adjusting some rotations.

The Nets may not have snapped their losing streak, but they snapped their 24-game streak of allowing opponents to score 100 or more points, dating back to December 14.

Yippee…

Here it is. Read at your own risk…

What a start for the Nets. They came out inspired and held the Knicks to a season-low 15-first quarter points and led 27-15. They carried the effort and finished the half strong, containing the Knicks to another season-low 38 points in the first half. The Knicks shot just 29.8 percent and Anthony was 3-of-12 from the field.

It was an ugly, ugly first half as both teams committed 10 turnovers each, but the Nets led, 45-38, behind 10 points from Caris LeVert.

The issue all season has been sustainability. We’ve seen the Nets play well in the first half of games, but finishing has been the issue.

This time, the Nets looked like they could pull this one out. They held the Knicks to another season-low 64 points through three quarters and led 69-64. They eventually led 76-66, but the Knicks answered with a 16-2 run and took its first lead of the night with 5:42 left in the game (82-78).

It was a typical Nets game: play well in the first half, but collapse down the stretch.

“We played together,” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said of the third quarter. “We played smart basketball. We were poised. We were in control at the end of the day and I felt like that’s what we needed and it just helped.”

But on the fourth quarter...

“We could’ve done a better job of coming together, staying poised and doing what we did in the third quarter.”

Meanwhile, Anthony, who was 6-of-22 through three quarters, sat the entire fourth quarter and the Knicks were better from it. They outscored the Nets 30-21 in the fourth. Kristaps Porzingis (19 points, 12 rebounds) hit the dagger to go up by six with 30 seconds left.

The Nets turned the ball over 21 times, which led to 27 points for the Knickerbockers. Along with that, they shot an ugly 5-of-25 from deep and 7-of-24 in the fourth quarter.

Not to mention, Brook Lopez was held to one point in the final frame. Like I said, typical Nets game.

Hollis-Jefferson played his heart out but had four turnovers and committed five personals. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Trevor Booker chipped in 12 and eight and LeVert 10.

“Listen, we were 1-15 in January. I felt like we needed to make a change.”

The Nets have lost way too many games like this. Blame it on what you’d like, but they need a leader down the stretch. I think that guy has been in a suit for quite a while...

For postgame audio, click HERE.

Next up: Indiana Pacers @ home this Friday.