Sigh. The losses keep piling on.
The Brooklyn Nets lost to the New York Knicks in embarrassing fashion on Wednesday, 142-118. Though Brooklyn was on the back end of a back-to-back, the Nets looked dead in the water from the start and allowed 81 points in the first half. This was Brooklyn’s second-straight loss to the Knicks, both of which have occurred since the team traded away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Prior to the two losses, the Nets did not lose to their crosstown rivals for nine consecutive games from 2019 all the way to 2022. It’s safe to say that streak is over.
As a team, the Nets have yet to win since the All-Star break, are currently on a four-game skid, and have lost six of their last seven games since officially starting the new era without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Over the last 25 games, Brooklyn is 7-18.
“We’re competitors so there is an element of suck to it, where it’s just like, man, we don’t want to go out and lose ever. Like, everybody feels it, everybody feels it deep,” said Cam Johnson. “We’re sitting on the bench, you can feel that it’s an unsettled feeling because we want to be better, because we know we can do, better because we know we have the talent in our room to be better. But I think that’s just gonna motivate us to attack these days.”
Johnson led the way for the Nets with a season-high 33 points on a nifty 13-of-18 shooting line and 7-of-11 from three. This was the second-highest-scoring performance of Johnson’s career.
His “twin,” Mikal Bridges, also had a solid outing with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Bridges has eclipsed 20 points in each of his last three performances.
Jalen Brunson led the way for the Knicks with 39 points on a sterling shooting line, 15-of-18, with five made threes. Eight of New York’s nine rotation players shot better than 45% from the field, going a ridiculous 54-of-89 (60.7%) as a team.
The game itself was the perfect marriage between an underwhelming defense and a red-hot shooting opponent. The Knicks could not miss from deep, drilling 14 three-pointers in the first half, which tied New York’s all-time record in a half. In the end, New York finished a ridiculous 57.1% from deep. New York’s 142 total points were the most points the Knicks have scored in a regulation game against the Nets.
The Nets, meanwhile, allowed 30 points in three of the four quarters in the game, a representation of just how much their defense is floundering. Hat tip to Billy Reinhardt for this one: Brooklyn has allowed 30+ points in 12 of their 16 total quarters since the All-Star break. Going a level deeper, they’ve allowed 27+ points in 15 of their 16 quarters. Brooklyn also got outrebounded by the Knicks, 46-31, and got killed by points in the paint, 56-40. Given all of the rangy 3-and-D talent, at least on paper, it’s been surprising to see the Nets perform so poorly on defense. Cam Johnson agreed.
“It is a surprise,” said Johnson. “Philly barely got to 100 the first game and there has been some regression statistically. Some of these teams are just hitting shots, you know, and sometimes you gotta give credit to them. But like I said earlier, that’s when you got to step in and be like, what kind of shots are they hitting? And how can we make them take different shots? How can we make them do things that are a little more uncomfortable for them? But yeah, and it’s not something that sits well with our group because we know we should be at the very minimum, a very good, top-half of the NBA defensive team.”
Both teams could not miss from three to start. Julius Randle began things with a contested three-pointer wedged deep into the right corner, and RJ Barrett pitched one in as well when Brooklyn helped weakside on a Randle drive. Cam Johnson got things started with two threes, one of which came from when Brunson helped at the nail on a drive. Randle had himself a monstrous start to the game with 4 assists, 3 of which were gorgeous skip passes to the opposite side of the court. Behind Randle’s passing, the Knicks began the game a blistering 9-of-11 from deep to build a 26-14 lead. When Isaiah Hartenstein checked in against the Nets’ backup lineup, which featured Dorian Finney-Smith at center, New York grew its lead further thanks to his 3 quick rebounds and 4 points. The Knicks finished the first quarter ahead, 47-29.
The Knicks kept their foot on the gas, beginning the second quarter on an 8-4 run. The ridiculous shooting continued, as New York nuked 14 made threes on 19 attempts to tie the record. Brunson, specifically, could not be stopped with 30 points on a near-perfect 12-of-14 shooting line. New York ended up finishing with the most points in a half since 2008 against Brooklyn’s putrid defense, up 81-57 at halftime.
In the third quarter—oh, let’s be honest. There was no coming back from allowing 81 points in two quarters. While Mikal Bridges reached 20 points for the fifth time in seven games, Nets fans were sharing draft prospect highlights on Twitter. It was that type of night from Brooklyn, one of those simulate-until-the-end-of-the-season type of outings. Brooklyn stumbled and fumbled their way into their fourth-straight loss. Hey, at least the New York Liberty’s season starts soon!
The Film Room
HA! As if.
I’m sure you’ll be just fine if we skip the film analysis on this one.
Tonight’s milestone watch is going to be mostly Knicks-centric because, well, there wasn’t a ton to write home about on Brooklyn’s side of things.
- Cam Johnson scored a season-high 33 points on a season-high-tying 7 made three-pointers. This was the second-best scoring performance of his career.
- Mikal Bridges scored 20 points for his third-straight game. This was the fifth time in seven games that Bridges has scored at least 20 points.
- The Knicks tied a franchise record with 14 made threes in a half.
- New York’s 81 points in the first half were the 1) the most points ever given up in a first half by the Nets, New Jersey or Brooklyn; 2) the third-most points the Knicks have ever scored in a half in the franchise’s 77-year history and 3) the most points the Knicks have scored in a half since 2008.
- 142 points is the most points the Knicks have ever scored against the Nets in a game. The previous high was 137 points, set in 1987.
Ben Simmons ruled out Friday
Post-game, Jacque Vaughn disclosed that left knee soreness will once again keep Ben Simmons out of a game. He will be DNP Friday vs. Boston.
Brooklyn heads off to Boston to play the second-seeded Celtics on Friday with hopes of breaking the dismal losing streak. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM EST on ESPN.
For a different perspective of tonight’s game, head to Posting and Toasting, our Knicks sister site.
- Box Score: New York Knicks 142, Brooklyn Nets 118 - NBA
- Game Highlights: New York Knicks 142, Brooklyn Nets 118 (Video) - NBA
- Highlights: Jalen Brunson scores 30 PTS in the first half! (Video) - NBA
- Highlights: Mikal Bridges vs. Knicks / 21 PTS (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Highlights: Cameron Johnson vs. Knicks / 33 PTS (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Jacque Vaughn on loss to Knicks (Video) - YES Network
- Johnson on Nets’ loss to Knicks (Video) - YES Network
- Dinwidde on Nets loss to Knicks (Video) - YES Network
- Brunson scores 39, Knicks rout Nets 142-118 for 7th straight - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Jalen Brunson scores 39 as Knicks manhandle Nets - Reuters
- Knicks destroy Nets in statement win for seventh straight victory - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Kevin Durant hasn’t talked to Kyrie Irving since trade from Nets - Dylan Svoboda - New York Post
- Jalen Brunson’s 39 points lead Knicks’ rout of Nets - Anthony Rieber - Newsday
- Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau, Nets’ Jacque Vaughn acknowledge sacrifice of bench vets - Anthony Rieber - Newsday
- Jacque Vaughn: Nets players ‘concerned about winning’ amid blowout losing streak - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- To switch or not to switch? Nets newcomers battling old instincts - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Jalen Brunson scores 30 first-half points, Knicks move closer to 4th seed after embarrassing Nets - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- How stuck is your favourite middling NBA Eastern Conference team? - Eric Koreen - The Athletic