Apparently, pundits don’t think much of the Knicks. The Nets two wins over their Manhattan rivals didn’t help their standing in power rankings this week. About half of the pundits kept them at the bottom, down at 30. The others had them at No. 28 or No. 29. Only one, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report, had the Nets ranked higher than the Knicks. Don’t ask us why.
The Nets have certainly been more competitive with Jeremy Lin than they were without him, but Kenny Atkinson didn't get Lin back into the game quick enough against Boston on Friday, and then Lin turned an ankle in the first quarter against Dallas on Sunday. The Nets' latest starting lineup has scored 113 points per 100 possessions in its 111 minutes together, with Brook Lopez averaging 24.8 points (with an effective field goal percentage of 58 percent) over the last five games, Randy Foye shooting 55 percent from 3-point range in March (third best among players with at least 25 attempts) and Caris LeVert doing lots of fun stuff. But another Lin absence could kill some of that momentum.
The Nets' second victory over the Knicks in a span of five days had to be three or four times sweeter than the first, since it brought Brooklyn's 33-game road losing streak to Eastern Conference opponents to a halt. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest such winless drought witnessed in this league since a similar 33-gamer endured by the Nets in their New Jersey days across two seasons (1989-90 and 1990-91). The big question now, entering the season's final 13 games, is whether Jeremy Lin's latest injury (right ankle) is "just a sprain" as described by Nets coach Kenny Atkinson following Sunday's matinee loss to Dallas. The Nets surely would have taken Lin's numbers over the course of an entire season, but injuries have limited the veteran point guard to 24 games in his maiden season at Barclays Center.
The Nets are better than their record. I know that sounds nuts, but it's true. And yet, they are still dead last in rankings. Think about how bad that makes their record.
They beat the Knicks twice in five days, they are getting outscored by just two points per 100 possessions in their last 10 games (which is a huge improvement over the entire season) and that is enough to get them out of the cellar in these rankings for a week. Brook Lopez has been a beast of late, but Jeremy Lin rolled his ankle again and will miss time, which could kill Brooklyn’s momentum.
The Nets have now beaten the Knicks twice in two weeks, but these aren’t the New York City Power Rankings.
Let's look at the bright side: The Nets, who have won just 34 games over the past two seasons, pulled out two wins over their cross-city rival Knicks this week — 120-112 on Sunday and 121-110 on Thursday, and 22-year-olds Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead have all seen valuable minutes during this lost season. The immediate future is by no means bright for Brooklyn, but the franchise has certainly seen darker days.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson says Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez, who played just 207 minutes together together through the end of February, are getting on the same page.
Turns out he's right, as the tandem produced a plus-4.0 net rating in 186 minutes since March 1.
Maybe that's a modest figure for a team's two best players, but anything in positive territory is basically a parade-worthy event in Nets country. Note, too, that those 207 pre-March minutes produced a minus-7.5 net rating.
Brooklyn took down a disjointed New York Knicks squad on Sunday, then did it again on Thursday, giving it wins for the third week in a row.
You're in no danger of falling back to No. 30 in these rankings if you keep winning every week.