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New York Knicks 119-104 Brooklyn Nets: Three Takeaways

BROOKLYN – The Nets struggles at Barclays Center hit a new low point in a blowout defeat against their crosstown rivals, the New York Knicks.

Despite an improved effort in rebounds, Brooklyn had no answer for New York’s physicality at the rim on both sides of the floor. Kristaps Porzingis led the way for the visitors as he poured in 26 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. DeMarre Carroll paced the home side with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. The Nets have lost their last four games in their home court.

The Nets have to find an answer for their continued issues with slow starts. The team finished the first half trailing by 10 points and once again tried to find a way to rally from a big deficit. Kenny Atkinson’s side fought back in the third, outscoring the Knicks 39-31 to cut the score to just 83-81, but surrendered a 14-2 to end any positive momentum. The Nets fall to 0-3 against the Knicks with the finale between the two teams coming on Jan. 30 at Madison Square Garden.

Here are Three Observations:

Brooklyn Fails to Contain Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks’ Frontcourt

Although Porzingis did most of his scoring damage in the first half, the Nets had no answer for the Latvian on the other side of the floor. 

The 22-year-old hit five of his eight field goals in the opening 24 minutes, but he was dominant defensively throughout the game. Porzingis had nine rebounds and two blocks – a total that seems low considering how his 7-foot-3 frame made it difficult for the Nets to finish at the rim. Atkinson acknowledged before the game that Brooklyn has struggled against New York this season due to the team’s rugged style of play.

On Monday, the Knicks frontcourt quartet of Porzingis, Kyle O’Quinn, Enes Kanter and Michael Beasley all chipped in protecting the rim as the team had a 10-3 advantage in shots blocked.

“I thought they did a great job waiting for us at the rim on our drives,” Atkinson said in his postgame presser.

Nets’ Backcourt Struggles

The unfortunate byproduct of the Knicks’ protection of the rim was the shooting struggles of Brooklyn’s guards. The Nets backcourt of Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert shot just 11-of-41 – a poor 26.8 percent on the floor.

Dinwiddie believes that the Nets’ recent shooting struggles is a big reason why the team has failed to get off to good starts in recent games.

“It’s similar story to the past couple of games – we haven’t been shooting the ball that great so we put ourselves into difficult positions,” he said. “Games that are close or games that we’re down 10, 15 or 20. These are games that we could very easily be in a different position if we hit three, four or five more shots.”

The Nets as a team struggled to hit threes as they shot 11-32 (34.4 percent). Atkinson believes that the issue wasn’t the attempts, but shot selection and ball movement.

“We have to do a better job of kicking it out. If they have two guys waiting for us at the rim, we have to make that extra pass,” he said. “I think we’ve regressed in our ‘making the extra pass’ philosophy and against this team [the Knicks], they flood the rim all the time with two bigs, you have to make that extra pass.”

Carroll Back to His Best

Carroll has been shooting well since his return from injury and it carried over against the Knicks. The small forward came into the game hitting 50 percent of his shots in the two games prior to Monday’s game. He was assertive against New York, having career-highs in free throws made (8) and attempted (9).

The Nets acquired Carroll this past offseason due to his leadership and close ties with Atkinson. Carroll has been effective as the veteran voice of the Nets locker room and if he can get back to the way he played in October and November, it would be a significant boost.