The New York Knicks visited the Barclays Center seeking to avenge last month’s controversial loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Real New Yorkers don’t like Brooklyn.
And why should we? All Brooklynites do is go on and on about how great Brooklyn is. They have the best craft beers. The food puts anything else in the five boroughs to shame. They even love their Brooklyn Nets, even though many of them hadn’t even been to a basketball game before 2012. Where were they during the dark days of Newark?
Sure enough, the New York Knicks crossed the river on Monday night to face these same Nets who defeated them back on Mar. 15. Fans may recall it was a controversial 117-112 win for Brooklyn, complete with some questionable calls from the officials.
This meant it was time for an old-fashioned New York beef that could only be settled on the court, and the Nets were without Kevin Durant once again. Furthermore, James Harden had missed the team’s previous game with a hamstring issue.
The Knicks, meanwhile, just wanted to right last month’s wrong.
1st quarter: Welcome to New York
The first quarter made one thing clear: this tilt between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets would be a chippy affair. Both Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel finished the first with two fouls each, as did LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn side. Even worse for the Nets was James Harden going to the locker room with an injury.
But the Knicks came ready to run with the Nets. The team dished out seven assists, including five from Julius Randle. New York led 34-31 after one, and was ready to keep playing hard. Or, in other words, remind the Nets which team truly runs the Big Apple.
Halftime report: New York groove
Reggie Bullock scored nine points in the last three minutes as New York finished the first half on a 17-6 run. Randle also put himself on triple-double watch once again as he had 11 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds by halftime.
The New York Knicks led 67-57 at the break, but new news only got worse for the Brooklyn Nets. Harden’s hamstring tightened up again and he would not return. Instead, Kyrie Irving put the Nets on his back with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting.
Even with both Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson in foul trouble, with three apiece, it was clear this was the Knicks’ game to lose.
3rd quarter: Brooklyn punches back
The New York Knicks led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, and Randle also got his fourth triple-double of the season.
Unfortunately, not much else went well for New York as the Brooklyn Nets finished the third on a 14-2 run. The Knicks committed seven turnovers in the third as they couldn’t slow down and not force their shots one too many times.
The Nets outscored them 31-22 in the third and led 89-88 entering the fourth. A photo finish seemed imminent.
4th quarter: Just short
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets each went on 7-0 runs in the fourth, but the boys from Madison Square Garden hung in there. Kyrie Irving had a 40-point night and hit what seemed like a dagger three late in the fourth. Yet, Alec Burks’ three tied the game late and the Knicks’ defense remained tough.
But bad fouls followed New York once again, and Jeff Green sunk two free throws to ice the game. Randle’s final attempt clanked off the iron as the Knicks lost another heartbreaker 114-112.
This was a winnable game, and the Knicks let it get away because they played not to lose instead of to win.
Player of the game: Julius Randle
The MVP case continued with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists as Randle notched his fourth triple-double of the year.