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Nets drop 67 in 2nd half, defeat Knicks in Lin’s return to MSG: 121-110

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NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The last time I saw Jeremy Lin at MSG, I ended up slumped in my seat with my jaw locked down to the floor. It was one of the most – if not the most – incredible NBA underdog stories. And it had only just begun.

Five years later, Jeremy Lin, not Linsanity, made his return to MSG as a Brooklyn Net. The assistant coach during that time is now the head coach. Sometimes the NBA can be weird in a great way…

After Atkinson, Lin and the Nets (13-54) made their 5-mile trek across town to Manhattan, they came away with a win over the New York Knicks (27-42), 121-110, on Thursday.

It was the second time in five days the Nets beat the crosstown rivals. This past Sunday, a game in which the Nets nailed 19 three pointers, won 120-112.

AND it was the first time since January 2 of last year, the Nets beat an Eastern Conference rival on the road, snapping a 33-game road losing streak.

For the Nets, it was a huge 67-point second-half that got them the W.

As they —whoever they are— say, you live and die by the three, right? The Nets trailed by 11 at half after shooting a horrid 2-of-16 from deep. But then, they nailed 6-of-7 three-pointers in the third quarter and turned a 7-point deficit into a 5-point lead entering the fourth.

They finished the game 10-of-31 from deep – 8-of-15 in the second half, not quite the 38 percent they’ve shot since Lin returned, but good enough to win.

They outscored the Knicks 38-26 in the third and the “BrookLin” duo was the anchor behind it all, with the three 22-year-olds — Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Isaiah Whitehead — playing a huge role as well.

That same BrookLin duo shot just 5-of-17 in the first half, but both picked up their play and propelled the Nets to victory, finishing the game a combined 9-of-16 in the second half. Lopez finished with a game-high 24 points and six rebounds, Lin with 15 points and eight assists.

It’s all changed with Jeremy Lin, the floor dictator and leader of this team.

It wasn’t necessarily Linsanity, but the third quarter sure looked like it. After shooting 2-of-8 in the first half with three assists, Lin dished out five assists in the third and scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting. He finished the night with 15 points and eight assists.

The team rallied behind his stellar play in the second half. Sound familiar? Does to me. Sounds like the season in a nutshell.

Like Kenny Atkinson always says, it’s not how you start but how you finish.

The Nets showed they could keep the momentum going in the fourth quarter and went up by as many as 10 following some solid production from the reserves. Brooklyn’s bench, which ranks second in the NBA for points per game, scored 39 points and handed over a 10-point lead to the starters in the fourth.

Then, it was the starters turn to finish this thing out. The Nets continued to control the tempo and went up by 14 with four minutes remaining. Randy Foye knocked down two free throws to put the Nets up by 11 with 1:10 left.

With the win, the Nets and Knicks will finish the season having split the 4-game series. Since moving to Brooklyn, the Nets are 11-9 against the Knicks.

SWING BROTHERS, SWING!

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on 7-11 shooting in 25 minutes. Not only was his offense great, but so was his D on Melo, who shot just 6-of-18 from the field. He’s scored in double digits in four out of nine games in March on 52 percent shooting.

Meanwhile...

Caris LeVert scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. It’s his third consecutive game in double digits, a span in which he’s averaged 14 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He displayed a variety of offensive moves, whether it be taking defenders off the dribble or stepping back, spinning and knocking down a mid-range jumper. It’s all impressive for the 22-year-old.

OFF THE BENCH:

With Sean Kilpatrick out for an indefinite amount of time, K.J. McDaniels received more minutes and had his best game as a Net with nine points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Along with McDaniels, Isaiah Whitehead had an aggressive game with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. The former Seton Hall Pirate appears to be in March Madness form.

ACY EAGER:

Quincy Acy may have been a little to eager to enter the Knicks game. After all, he’s fighting for renewal of his contract. Maybe he was a bit too eager...

As Kenny Atkinson made his way towards him, Acy jumped up, thinking his coach was beckoning check in. Atkinson instead was only interested in the water cooler. It was live, then viral.

Acy did get in and played 17 minutes but for a moment, it was embarrassing.

ANGRY KNICKS:

The Knicks probably wanted some revenge Thursday for their loss at Barclays Center on Sunday night. Instead, they got handled on their home court. Derrick Rose was so upset he was gone by the time the media arrived.

But Kyle O’Quinn took it farther, reaching for some classic sour grapes.

"A team like that, you look at their roster, they shouldn't be in the guym with us." said O’Quinn.

The win meant that the Nets will continue to hold sway over the Knicks in one-on-one competition. Of the 20 games played since the Nets moved into the city in 2012, Brooklyn leads New York 11-9. And the Nets are now only one game behind the Knicks in their head-to-head competition. Of the 197 games played between the two clubs since the Nets joined the NBA, the Knicks have won 94, the Nets 93.

INACTIVES:

Nets: Trevor Booker (rest), Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) and Joe Harris (concussion/shoulder).

Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis (thigh).

Next up: Friday at home vs. Boston.