The Brooklyn Nets won’t run the table on the New York Knicks this season, falling 108-91 at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Brook Lopez finished with a team-high 21 points, but the Nets couldn’t recover from a less-than desirable first quarter, ending a four-game winning streak against their crosstown and division rivals. The loss also ended Brooklyn’s current two-game winning streak.
“We didn’t come ready to compete early. They jumped on us and knocked us out early,” head coach Lionel Hollins said in his postgame diagnosis. “Give them credit for playing the way they played. They deserved to win and we didn’t play well enough to even give ourselves a chance to win.”
The game was won and lost in the first quarter. The Nets found themselves on the wrong side of a 16-0 run early, during which the Knicks hit four consecutive threes. The Knicks hit 7-of-11 3’s in the first quarter and shot 60.9% from the field while the Nets shot 9-of-22 overall. After 12 minutes, the Nets trailed 42-21.
“They made a lot of shots, we turned the ball over and we didn’t make shots,” Hollins said. “When you make shots the way they were making them. They made a lot of shots… It was an ugly game for us.”
The second quarter was considerably closer, as neither team established a lengthy run and the Knicks’ magnetic pull on the basket from beyond the arc waned. After allowing seven 3’s in the first quarter, the Nets held the Knicks to one in the second quarter. Brooklyn trailed 65-42 at the half.
“They left their mark on the game in the first half,” said Thaddeus Young, who finished the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds. “It was tough to come back in the second half. We have to go back to the drawing board. They put it on us tonight.”
First quarter aside, the Nets played a relatively even game with the Knicks, outscoring New York 70-66 over the final three quarters. Willie Reed made his NBA debut in the third quarter, scoring eight points (3-of-4 FG). Reed, who played in the D-League from 2012-15 before signing with the Nets in July, had his debut put on hold after tearing the UCL in his right thumb. Friday marked the end of a long journey for Reed, as well as the official start of his NBA career.
The other notable happening of the second half was Joe Johnson’s ejection. Johnson was issued a flagrant II foul for an elbow on Jose Calderon, though the 15-year vet – who had never been ejected - said it was incidental contact.
“I’ve never been ejected from a game. I don’t have a history of being a dirty player,” Johnson said. “The ball got hit and when I went to recover, I tried to protect it. The rest is history.”
Carmelo Anthony had a game-high 28 points (9-of-18, including 5-of-8 on 3’s), while rookie Kristaps Porzingis scored 19 points (7-of-13, 3-of-4 on 3’s) with 10 rebounds.
The Nets return to Barclays Center – where they have won four games in a row – to play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. The Nets took the Warriors to overtime in their previous meeting on Nov. 14. Tip off is a 6 p.m.