NEW YORK – The Brooklyn Nets have handled adversity this season like it was a used dental glove.
At the first sign of it, the Nets have shrunk.
Not Tuesday night in the Garden.
When a 10-point lead had been whittled to three, the Nets continued to make plays. By standing tall instead of shrinking, the Nets pulled out a 98-93 win over the Knicks.
The win lifts the Nets to 7-9 and dropped the Knicks to 4-15. The Nets beat the Knicks 110-99 in Barclays Center earlier this season.
Almost every key player made an aggressive play down the stretch.
Brook Lopez had a blocked shot of Cole Aldrich.
Deron Williams (19 points on 5-of-8 shooting on 3s) made a three and rose up for a loose-ball rebound.
Joe Johnson (22 points) made some key steals.
Kevin Garnett (13 rebounds) knocked down a baseline jumper.
NETS' GAINS: Lopez scored 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting. But Lionel Hollins was more pleased with his eight rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists.
KEY STRETCH: Whatever Lionel Hollins said in the locker room at halftime worked. The Nets opened the third quarter on a 22-10 surge to take a 71-55 lead. Deron Williams keyed the run by knocking down a pair of three-pointers.
KEY PLAY: After the Knicks had gotten to within 91-88, Deron Williams drained a 3, his fifth of the night.
UNSUNG STAR: Joe Johnson played one of his best all-around games of the season. He finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. But his best effort came on the defensive end where he was primarily matched up against Carmelo Anthony. Johnson held Anthony to 7-of-22 shooting.
PLUM MINUTES: Lopez was not the only big man to prosper. Mason Plumlee played his second straight strong game, grabbing eight rebounds (five offensive) and scoring 10 points. He ran the floor like he did last season and attacked the basket.
TALK: “This was a big building block,’’ said Hollins.