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GAME GRADES: One step forward, two steps back!

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

Knicks throttle Nets, 115-96, to bring Brooklyn a dose of reality.

BROOKLYN NETS

Grade: D

Four games in six days, three games in four nights, but this was an absolutely unacceptable performance from Brooklyn. After two close encouraging losses against western conference powerhouses New Orleans and Golden State, the Nets came out lethargic and disinterested against their crosstown rivals in a game they simply needed to win. After a decent first quarter from the Nets, the Knicks took control, led by Enes Kanter (15 points and 15 rebounds). Kanter led the Knicks to a dominating 53-32 advantage on the glass as the Nets once again weren’t up for the challenge against the brash Turk. It’s a game the Nets need to throw away; not many positives to take from this one.

D’ANGELO RUSSELL (13 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds – 4/10 in 27 minutes)

Grade: C+

DLo came out of the gate hot and led the Nets to an early lead. He was in rhythm and scoring at will. Then, the bench came in and the Nets lost the lead almost immediately. Despite nine early points on just five shots, Russell became hesitant to shoot, unleashing only five shots the rest of the way. We’re starting to see a pattern as the Nets bench keeps squandering leads built by the starting group. The Nets should look to split Russell and Caris LeVert’s minutes to ensure high usage for each player and a more balanced rotation.

CARIS LEVERT (4 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds – 2/11 in 29minutes)

Grade: D

This was by far LeVert’s worst performance of the season. He looked visibly tired, coming up short on nearly every jumper he took. The Nets need LeVert to be good every night and it’s no surprise they had this performance as a team while LeVert was struggling. He has looked great so far this season, but these are the bumps a young player getting used to being the guy will go through over an 82 game slate. He’ll get a chance to bounce back against Detroit on Wednesday.

SPENCER DINWIDDIE (17 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound – 6/10 in 30 minutes)

Grade: B+

With the Nets lacking energy and life all night, Spencer Dinwiddie stepped up off the bench for seventeen big points. The Nets have three high level ball-handlers in Russell, LeVert, and Dinwiddie, and the hope is at least two of them perform well each night. He’s playing more off the ball this season and he and Shabazz Napier have been successful in tandem; a good sign moving forward.

JARRETT ALLEN (7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks – 2/6 in 20 minutes)

Grade: C

Jarrett Allen’s nemesis continues to be Enes Kanter. At a raw twenty years of age, Allen just doesn’t have the bulk to bang down low with Kanter and the Nets pay for it every time they match up. The Knicks also do a good job of pushing the Nets out to the perimeter and defending the Nets pick and roll attack, limiting the effectiveness of the offensively limited Allen. Allen had a big game against Detroit in the opener and will have another tough task on his hands with Andre Drummond Wednesday night.

RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON (16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks – 8/15 in 27 minutes)

Grade: B+

Although he’s a seemingly odd fit next to Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis in the frontcourt, RHJ’s activity is highly effective; he just makes things happen. Per usual, RHJ stuffed the stat sheet for Brooklyn and was one of the few Nets to have success in the paint. RHJ starting to round into form and should be back starting for Brooklyn in no time.

JOE HARRIS (11 points, 2 assists, 1 rebounds, 3 threes – 4/9 in 28 minutes)

Grade: B-

Joe Harris is a model of consistency; he’s good for 10-15 points and 2-4 threes per night. Defensively, although intelligent in his positioning and competitive with his effort, he just isn’t good enough against top wing scorers. Tasked with guarding Tim Hardaway Jr. most of the night, Harris was torched for 28 points. Kenny Atkinson will have to make an adjustment to hide Harris on players with less foot speed to improve the Nets defense.

ALLEN CRABBE (8 points, 1 assists, 2 rebounds – 2/8 in 25minutes)

Grade: C

After looking like he was starting to round into form against Golden State, Crabbe had another rough shooting performance against the Knicks. The Nets simply need more out of their highest paid player. This is a big year for Crabbe and I wonder how much patience the organization will have with him if he flounders in year two in Brooklyn.

SHABAZZ NAPIER (12 points, 3 assists – 3/6 in 19 minutes)

Grade: B+

Napier is proving himself to be a valuable part of Brooklyn’s bench. He’s a sparkplug, a microwave, the fiery competitor the Nets lacked last season. Not to mention, he’s one of the most fun players to watch on the team. On a disappointing night, Napier was a bright spot.