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Nets rout crosstown rival Knicks, 112-85, behind triple-double from Kevin Durant

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New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Death, taxes, and the Brooklyn Nets beating the New York Knicks in the Kevin Durant era.

Brooklyn gathered its fifth victory of the season—and the third victory in five games under new head coach Jacque Vaughn—to improve to 5-7 on the season with a resounding 112-85 victory over their crosstown rival. The Nets have held their last four opponents under 100 points, with two of them (the Knicks included) being held under 90 points.

“I think we really came out with the right mindset,” said Jacque Vaughn after the game. “That first group really got us and established our wheel. We picked up a full court, really tried to put an imprint on the game, and then guys just filtered in off the bench and had an impact.”

The Nets improved to 111-106 all-time against the Knicks after Wednesday’s victory and have yet to lose against New York since Durant made his Nets debut in the 2020-21 season with 8-straight victories. Plus, Ben Simmons remains an undefeated 15-0 against the Knicks over his five-year career!

Speaking of Durant, he was sensational once more for Brooklyn, maintaining his streak of scoring 25+ points to become the first player to do so in his first 12 games of the season since Michael Jordan in 1988-89. He also recorded a season-high 12 assists and season-high 12 rebounds for his first triple-double of the year and fifth as a Net.

“Kevin’s job of getting our group going, his ability to be a hub for us, rebound for us, come up with a triple-double set the tone,” said Vaughn. “Pretty impressive.”

Brooklyn also got excellent scoring production from Edmond Sumner, who scored a season-high 18 points.

“I knew it was coming around,” said Sumner about his big performance, “just sticking with the process, talking to my trainers (who) sent me clips after every game. Just knowing if I stuck with the process, it was going to come around.”

Seth Curry was also excellent, and his 23 points were the most from a Nets reserve this season. Royce O’Neale also grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds against New York, and the Nets were a monstrous +44 in O’Neale’s minutes, the highest plus-minus by a Net in the play-by-play era.

Julius Randle led the charge for New York with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. Outside of Randle, the Knicks... didn’t get much else in terms of production. RJ Barrett was woefully ineffective, shooting just 5-of-14 from the field, and his backcourt partner, Jalen Brunson, was equally underwhelming with 4-of-14 shooting.

Similar to the 40-point blowout against the Wizards, the Nets won in basically every major statistical category. Brooklyn ripped down 55 rebounds to the Knicks’ 46; they scored more points in the paint (40-30); they generated more assists (30-21) and shot a blistering 41.2% from three (14-of-34) to the Knicks' 27.9% (12-of-43).

Brooklyn came out the gates with a strong defensive gameplan; limit paint opportunities for the Knicks, who rank third in the league in drives per game, and force New York and their 33.9% 3-point shooting to take jump shots. The Nets, meanwhile, got some excellent production early from Edmond Sumner, who hit three three-pointers, along with some awesome playmaking from O’Neale and Durant, who together recorded seven early assists. Behind all of this, the Nets got off to an early 24-8 start.

Brooklyn continued to surge as the first quarter winded down, shooting 15-of-25 as a team and 6-of-10 from deep. The Nets also recorded 13 assists on their 15 made shots. The Knicks, meanwhile, rode the hot hand of their star, Julius Randle, who canned four of his first seven three-pointers en route to 15 points in the quarter. Brooklyn’s 38 points in the first quarter matched the most points in any quarter this season as a team, and its 16-point advantage over New York was the team’s biggest in a first quarter this season.

The second quarter was all about the Seth Curry Show, who broke what’s been a bit of an early season slump while recovering from off-season ankle surgery with 14 early points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep. Behind this, the Nets built an early 20-point advantage. Sumner continued his strong first-half play after checking in with the starters by adding 4 additional points off spidery layups to bring his total up to 13.

Behind Durant’s 15 points and 8 assists, the Nets finished the first half ahead 69-44 over the Knicks.

The Knicks continued to struggle to begin the third as the Nets did an excellent job stifling their lead orchestrator, Jalen Brunson, thanks to the effort from Sumner and Nic Claxton on switches. In fact, RJ Barrett was the only Knick that could find any sort of rhythm, scoring 11 points in the quarter.

Similarly, the Nets struggled to score after the torrid start in the first half. Brooklyn mustered up just 21 points in the third after scoring 39 and then 31 points in the previous two periods. Still, Brooklyn was able to maintain its monstrous advantage heading into the fourth, up 92-71 against the crosstown rival.

The Nets only continued to build on their lead in the fourth, as Kevin Durant reached his triple-double at the 7:27 mark in the quarter. In the end, Brooklyn cruised to its second resounding victory in four games.

The Film Room

It’s time we give Kevin Durant his due.

Amidst all of the hysteria—the coaching rumors, Kyrie Irving’s suspension, Ben Simmons’ gradual return to form—he’s kept his composure and been a total professional to start the season. His summer trade request has not affected his play; he’s doing it all for the Nets, encouraging his teammates from the sidelines, and displaying exquisite buy-in as the team’s leader. Wednesday night was a great example of that.

Between jawing with Julius Randle and taking on a heavy load on offense, Durant toggled between lead facilitator and scoring enigma with perfection. New York threw a multitude of coverages Durant’s way, and KD solved them like, well, a 14-year veteran.

When the Knicks threw multiple bodies Durant’s way, KD quickly made the right read. The second he feels Jalen Brunson shading over in transition, he launches a pass to Edmond Sumner, who attacks from the second side and finishes off a nasty jump-stop.

On the play below, Durant finds Nic Claxton rolling in a crowd with a gorgeous jump pass—a rather risky move—that Claxton, the league leader in field goal percentage, finishes on a nifty jump hook. Notice how the timing of KD’s pass beats Julius Randle to his spot while rotating as the low man. The placement of Durant’s pass is also pristine, traveling over the outstretched arms of Jericho Sims and softly into Claxton’s sturdy mitts.

And though this play wasn’t necessarily against double coverage, this is just a nutty skip pass from Durant—/especially after the look-away. WOW.

When Durant was faced with single-coverage, typically against Cam Reddish, he went into scorer mode. A simple face-up and light jab-step gives Durant just enough room to get off his super sweet jump shot with its high release point.

And when Durant mixes his tight crossover with a lethal shot-fake? Forget about it. Reddish was left in the dust, here.

“I always just trying to do my job,” said Durant. “I adopted that mentality about 10, 11 years ago working with Brian Keefe, one of our coaches here now actually, and just all about just every day, no matter what, come to work and focus on being the best that I can be, getting the most out of myself every day. So I try to stay with that approach and regardless of what’s going on around me, try my best to make an impact.”

We’ve said it before, but cherish Kevin Durant, Nets fans. He’s playing out of his mind right now and is not letting the madness surrounding his squad affect his level of play.

For Kevin Durant, the Knicks are always fun

Kevin Durant is now 21-3 all-time against the Knicks and hasn’t lost to them since signing with Brooklyn in 2019. He admits he takes special joy in the rivalry.

As he proved pre-game Wednesday when he was booed by some young Knicks fans...

Praise for the new boss

Post-game and post-hire, several Nets were asked about their new boss, Jacque Vaughn...

Just before midnight, the Nets released video of the post-game celebration of the new head coach’s first official win...

Irving status update

Sean Marks told the media that he had not spoken with Kyrie Irving since the suspension but had spoken with Irving’s representatives.

“On the Kyrie front, when we have news to share and updates, we will do so at the appropriate time,” Marks said Wednesday at the Vaughn press conference. “As of now there’s nothing to share.”

After Irving’s meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the next step seems to be a commitment from Irving to meet the six requirements the Nets want him to complete before he returns to play.

Meanwhile, more than one pundit has pointed to the Nets have been playing better without Irving than they had been doing with him...

Watanabe ankle sprain not severe

In talking about the scary moment in Dallas when Yuta Watanabe had to be helped off the court, Jacque Vaughn revealed that the 6’9” forward did have an MRI on return to Brooklyn and that there was good news.

“I’m missing Yuta, that’s the first part of that timeline,” Vaughn said. “He had an MRI today and good thing it’s not severe, so hopefully next couple days get him to progress. We missed him in Dallas, we ended up playing Royce 40 minutes because of that. So Yuta’s really been a utility person for us and able to serve in a lot of roles.”

Our Chris Milholen caught Watanabe on the court during yesterday’s shootaround.

Meanwhile, Vaughn said T.J. Warren will travel with the Nets on their upcoming road trip.

“Nothing new,” said Vaughn. “He’ll get some more work on the road when we head out west. Good thing is he’s on the court, progressing.”

The Nets said preseason that Warren would be re-evaluated in November. The organization has been optimistic about Warren’s recovery and two days ago, Vaughn said that Warren had had “no setbacks” in his recovery from a foot injury that’s limited him to four games over the past two plus seasons.

Black Hebrew Israelites rally at Barclays Center

The Black Hebrew Israelites, a Bronx-based group who’ve supported Kyrie Irving (and Kanye West), were on hand at several locations around Barclays Center before the game. The group, some of whose members dressed in uniforms used small public address systems to get their message across and offered materials to passersby.

Echoing some of what Irving has spoken about, the group’s leader said they were there for Irving, who’s been suspended for at least five games — and maybe longer — for publicizing an antisemitic video.

“We’re expressing our support of Kyrie Irving and his stance in terms of him knowing who he is,” Deacon Eythan of Israel United in Christ said, “Kyrie Irving himself understands that not only are we Semitic ourselves, but it is contradictory and hypocritical to say that someone is anti-Semitic when they are Semitic.”

The group’s materials also echoed points made in the video, as Laura Albanese of Newsday tweeted.

What’s next

The Nets take on the 6-5 LA Clippers, who continue to push forward without superstar Kawhi Leonard, for a matinee game at the Staples Center. Coverage begins on the YES Network at 4 PM EST on Saturday.

For a different perspective of tonight’s game, head to Posting and Toasting, our Knicks sister site. Be kind.