Nets Go For 5th Straight Win Over Knicks

By Cory Wright

Nets vs. Knicks: It’s a Battle of the Boroughs, as the Nets travel into Manhattan to take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Nets owned the Knicks last year, sweeping the season series against their crosstown rivals 4-0. Brook Lopez was the Nets’ difference-maker against the Knicks in 2014-15, averaging 20.8 points (.571 FG percentage), 8.3 rebounds and four blocks per game. The Nets big man tipped in the winning shot with two seconds to play in Brooklyn’s 100-98 win over the Knicks in their last meeting. The Nets come into Friday’s rivalry showdown on a two-game winning streak.

Lopez vs. Lopez: Amid the Knicks-Nets crosstown rivalry is a sibling rivalry, as Brook Lopez faces off against his brother Robin on the court. Robin Lopez signed with the Knicks over the summer, pitting the brothers against one another four times a season – with divisional implications on the line. The Lopez brothers are reportedly very close, but are also very competitive, competing in everything from basketball to light saber duels.

Larkin Faces Former Team: Former Knick Shane Larkin gets his first crack at playing against his former team. Larkin’s numbers have improved since joining the Nets, as he’s averaging more points per game (7.4 compared to 5.7), a higher field-goal and three-point percentage (.487 from the field, .517 from beyond the arc). The Nets point guard had 11 points and tied a career-high with eight assists in the Nets’ 94-91 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Bargnani Out: While Larkin gets to face his former team, Andrea Bargnani will not. Bargnani – who spent the last two seasons with the Knicks – will miss his second straight game with a tight left hamstring. The 30-year-old forward/center did not practice Thursday and head coach Lionel Hollins did not offer a timetable on his return.

Kristaps Porzingis: The Nets will get their first look at rookie Kristaps Porzingis on Friday night. Porzingis was named the Eastern Conference’s Rookie of the Month, scoring 14.1 points per game, grabbing 9.9 rebounds and coming up with 2.1 blocks per game in November. Porzingis has helped the 9-10 Knicks improve off a tough season last year, when the Knicks opened up the season 4-15 in their first 19 games. Porzingis is third in rookie scoring (13.7 ppg), second in rebounding (9.3 rpg) and blocked shots (1.89). The Latvian threw some shade at the Nets Thursday, which should add some fire to the crosstown rivalry.

Knicks: The Knicks had lost four straight before beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-87 on Wednesday. Porzingis has been an impactful addition for the Knicks, but Carmelo Anthony still carries the team’s offense, scoring 21.6 points per game. Anthony missed the Knicks-Rockets game on Sunday with an illness and had 12 points in 26 minutes on Wednesday, but should play Friday vs. the Nets.

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