What appeared to be a blowout early on with New York down 26-9 in the first quarter, turned into another nail biter against the Nets and a classic finish by Jason Kidd, who hit the game-winning three-pointer to help the Knicks edge their crosstown rivals 100-97.
If the rivalry between these two teams felt media manufactured before the season, it has unquestionably morphed into the most exciting one in the NBA thus far. And the best thing about last night’s game as we get to see them go at it again next week. Onto my thoughts…
Knicks Start Flat, Nets On a Mission: Maybe it was underestimating BK because Brook Lopez was out. For whatever reason, the Knicks came out horrid in the first quarter. They only had 5 points over seven minutes into the quarter while the Nets got into a nice groove by feeding Andry Blatche for jumpers and layups. On the other hand, the Knicks were missing most of their layups and bricking jumpers as the offense was completely stagnant. Brooklyn had an 17-point lead after a Joe Johnson three with just 1:56 remaining, and it looked like the Knicks might just get ran out of the building as the “Brooklyn” chants started.
Melo On Fire (And Efficient!): When the offense is hurting, we turn to our best player and boy did he deliver starting in the second quarter. After a short break to start (where Rasheed Wallace helped out with a three and short jumper to bring NY within 21-35), Melo got to cooking. He had 15 points in the quarter on a nice array of shots: long jumpers, three-pointers, and drives to the lane, the latter of which trimmed the deficit to 49-53 at halftime.
Melo had 8 in the third and added 15 in the fourth for a total of 45 points on 15-24 from the field. He did exactly what was needed to get us back in it and showed some overlooked leadership after the Kidd three in calming everyone down and reminding them that we still needed one last stop to prevent another overtime situation. Longtime Knicks fans will remember Chris Childs did the same thing to calm down Larry Johnson when he had the famous four-point play against the Pacers in the ’99 Eastern Conference Finals.
Kidd Saves the Day: Remember the last Nets game where Raymond Felton’s bad play down the stretch helped seal our defeat? Well, Felton had another bad game (7 turnovers, 8 points on 3-12 shooting), but this time we had Kidd in the lineup to make the difference. The old man had 18 crucial points (all from downtown) while also notching six assists. The craftiness of the leg kick out on his three-pointer was amazing. When the foul was called, I half expected Kidd to get up and hit the Larry Johnson “L” pose. It was a “cheap” foul, and as Rasheed Wallace says, the “ball don’t lie” so karma righted itself with the free throw being missed. With that said, one good flop deserves another with all the embellishments we’ve put up with from Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace over these two games.
JR Smith Shows Up: The bench had a terrible game against BK last time out. To win, we needed someone to step up and to his credit JR Smith did just that, contributing 16 points. We’ve been winning despite his recent shooting slump, but having an “on” JR would make these games much easier. Hopefully he can keep this up to close out the month while we incorporate Stat back into the fold.
More Space in the Atlantic Division: The Nets came out like a team desperate to end their four-game losing streak. NY winning is huge in that it gives us a four-game lead over the Nets in the Atlantic Division and keeps us #1 in the East. And let’s not be coy, fellow Knicks fans — there is nice satisfaction in pushing the Nets’s losing streak to five games.
We’re back at it on Thursday night to face our old nemsis…I mean coach, Mike D’Antoni and his struggling Los Angeles Lakers. After an embarrassing loss to the lowly Cavs last night, you can bet they’ll come out with guns blazing so it’s another “trap game” we need to be ready for.