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Nets defend home court and defeat Knicks, 109-99

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New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — With the Nets thriving and the Knicks tanking, the guys in black-and-white finally had their moment to kick the bigger brother while down.

Although it wasn’t the prettiest affair, the Brooklyn Nets (27-23) took down the New York Knicks (10-37), 109-99, Friday night at Barclays Center. The Nets won their sixth straight game and eighth straight at home (12 of 13, too).

And just to add to all of that, the Nets are 19-5 in the last 24 games — matching the best 24-game stretch in franchise history. In the same span, the Knicks are 2-19.

It was a tie ballgame at half with Shabazz Napier and rookie Theo Pinson keeping the Nets alive. Both stepped up with Spencer Dinwiddie out (thumb). They combined for 37 points off the bench. For Pinson, the 19 points were a career-high and a franchise record for a Nets’ two-way player. He also grabbed eight rebounds.

“Confidence. Confidence and I know I can shoot the ball and they encourage you to shoot here,” Pinson said after the game.

Napier, meanwhile, filled the Dinwiddie void quite nicely with 18 points on 11-of-12 from the free throw line. He shot just 3-of-13 from the field.

“It’s exciting,” Napier said. “It’s kind of a role that we all have. We all believe in each other. We all believe that once we step on the court we’re going to go out there and play as hard as we can for each other.”

D’Angelo Russell was relatively quiet the first three quarters after picking up his third foul in the second. But then, Atkinson re-inserted him in the fourth quarter and all seemed right. The Nets went on a 14-4 extended run, capped off by a Russell three-pointer.

That was the dagger. After allowing 37 points in the first quarter alone, the Nets allowed just 39 in the second half. And just like that, the Nets are one win away from matching last year’s win TOTAL.

They played scrappy, they moved the ball, hit their free throws and cleaned the glass with Enes Kanter sitting out.

They attempted 47 free throws — the most in Barclays Center history.

They also out-rebounded the Knicks 60-33, behind the lead of Ed Davis, who finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds — his third double double of the season. Davis leads the league in rebounds off the bench, offensive boards off the bench, rebound percentage and offensive rebound percentage.

For the Knicks, Trey Burke led with 25 points.

The man of the night was Pinson. He came in from Long Island and gave the Nets the spark they needed. The transition wasn’t so difficult, he explained:

“It was something that I’ve been working all summer and every single day with Shaun Fein, Will Weaver and all those guys who have helped me to this point, Pinson added.

“I can’t thank those two enough as far as keeping us ready. We run the same stuff up there (Long Island) so I’m not behind when I come here and it’s helped me out tremendousmy.”

Like we said, It wasn’t the prettiest win, but a win is a win nonetheless. It wasn’t overwhelming with Nets fans or even Knicks fans for that matter. With that being said, the Brooklyn Nets asserted themselves in a way they haven’t been able to in the past: They run New York basketball.

And here’s a fun fact to prove it: with the win, the Nets and Knicks are now even at 98 wins each.

Listen to post-game audio here.

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PLAYOFF RACE

The Nets entered Friday standing as the lone six seed — two games up on the Hornets and 4.5 games back from the Celtics. They also had a four-game lead over the nine-seed Pistons. Still too close for comfort.

By night’s end, the Nets were closer to the five seed, the Celtics —four games— than the nine seed Wizards was to them —five games.

PINSON RISING ... AGAIN

Should anyone be surprised at Theo Pinson making the NBA? Other than the 29 other NBA teams that had a shot at him, either in the Draft or afterwards? Not really. He’s always been a top prospect.

Back in 2014, for example, Pinson was ranked 10th in the ESPN Top 100 Recruiting Database. That was the high school class that also produced Jahlil Okafor, ranked No. 1; Myles Turner, No. 2; Karl-Anthony Towns, No. 9; D’Angelo Russell, No. 12; Isaiah Whitehead No. 13; Justise Winslow, No. 15 and Devin Booker, No. 18.

Here’s some highlights of the kind of play that got him that ranking.

Pinson was recruited by Roy Williams at North Carolina who saw him as a facilitator rather than a scorer. His career hit a few bumps mainly because of injuries but by 2017, he was one of the last men standing at the NCAA championships. Then last season, he became the first player in North Carolina history to average 10/5/5. Again, not a scorer as much as a facilitator.

His big issue was a lack of three-point shooting last year, hitting only 22.7 from deep, the lowest number in his four-year career. But the Nets liked him a lot and thought that that he could revert to that go-to role he had at Wesleyan Christian Academy in Greensboro, N.C.

As the 2018 NBA Draft came to a close, the Nets called Pinson and invited him to join the summer league roster. He nearly doubled his college three-point shooting percentage and took on a lead role.

The Nets ultimately gave him a two-way deal and a green light. He’s been dominating the G League, scoring 43 points in one game, compiling a triple double the next. Friday night, he proved he can do it in the NBA as well.

“They encourage you to shoot here. If they don’t shoot it, you get yelled at,” offered Pinson last year, “I think the biggest thing with everything is confidence. We have so many guys who are sort of similar to me, like Spencer (Dinwiddie).

Will it help him get over the disappointment of not being drafted? Unlikely.

“I could see the disappointment on his face when he wasn’t getting drafted. I know Theo, and we both felt the same: We thought he was better than a lot of guys that got drafted before him,” his high school coach Keith Gatlin told Bryan Fonseca last year.

And now he has a chance to prove that top 10 ranking back in 2014 was deserved.

MITCH CREEK FULFILLS DREAM

Mitch Creek came over from Australia with an ambitious goal in mind: Make the NBA. He’s played 25 games with Brooklyn’s G League affiliate in Long Island, where he’s averaged 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.6 minutes per contest while shooting 54.8 percent (138-of-252) from the field.

The Nets officially signed him to a 10-day contract on Thursday, fulfilling his goal, his dream, when he came over from Australia. He scored one point on the night after subbing in for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who left the game before attempting free throws.

Congratulations to Mitch.

Here’s the moment he learned, from Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon, that his NBA dream had come true. All the feels...

To get a different perspective —and hear the lamentations of their women— head on over to Posting and Toasting, our Knicks sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: The Nets travel to Boston for another Monday game against the Celtics.