Playing the second night of a back-to-back, the Brooklyn Nets got off to a good start against the New York Knicks, but couldn’t maintain it, falling 110-96 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton each had 21 points for the Nets – a career-high for Hamilton – but after a 55-point first half, Brooklyn was limited to just 41 in the back half of the game. The Knicks, powered by big runs from Carmelo Anthony (22 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (21), outscored the Nets 60-41 over the final two quarters, opening up the game in the fourth quarter.
“For three quarters we were pretty good,” Coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Give them credit there. Our offense got really stagnant, we stopped moving the ball, but credit to their defense, credit to their energy. We have to do a better job.”
The Nets carried over the momentum from strong finish in Tuesday’s win into Wednesday’s start. They hit 5-of-11 threes in the first quarter, grabbed 13 rebounds and drove to the hoop with little resistance.
The Nets kept their cushion through halftime, but the turning point came with five minutes left in the third quarter. That’s when Anthony got hot, personally going on a 14-3 run, transforming a 67-58 Nets lead into a 72-70 Knicks advantage.
“They were just great shots,” Atkinson said of Anthony, who made a string of contested shots. “Our defense was pretty good. We had hands, but he’s capable of that. But even after that stretch it was a one-point game, then I felt like the real difference was their bench coming in and they took us out of our stuff.”
The game was still within reach with the Nets down 72-71 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Knicks momentum carried through the break. The Knicks started off on a 7-0 run and just when it looked like a Hamilton three had the Nets back in it, Porzingis kicked off an 11-2 Knicks run. That stretch put enough of a buffer between the crosstown rivals to effectively seal it.
The Nets had a new starting point guard for the third time in four games on Wednesday, as Sean Kilpatrick was the next man up at the one in wake of injuries to Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Whitehead. Kilpatrick finished the game with seven points and a team-high five assists.
“Your mindset has to be a lot different running the point guard position,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m still sitting here trying to get adjusted to it and trying to make sure I’m making the correct plays. Just have to continue to keep working at it and keep getting better.”
The injuries at the one also opened the door for Yogi Ferrell, who was called up and signed from the Long Island Nets and made his NBA debut on Wednesday night.
“It meant a lot,” Ferrell said before the game. “The organization felt like I have some value to the team and my ability to play, so I want to thank them for that, giving me this opportunity and I’m not going to take it lightly.”
Ferrell didn’t take long to get on the scoresheet, dishing out an assist to Luis Scola and driving to the hoop for a running layup inside his first 92 seconds. He finished the game with five points, three assists and a rebound.
While the Nets didn’t travel far for Wednesday’s game, it did kick off the team’s five-game road trip. Brooklyn heads west to Phoenix on Saturday night to take on the Suns. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET.