Nets vs. Knicks: Resilient Brooklyn Eyeing Shot to Even Record

A week ago, the Brooklyn Nets were in Chicago on the last game of a five-game road trip, going into their Saturday night game against the Bulls with a three-game losing streak but without starting guards Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert.

Since that night, they’ve won three of their last four to improve to 7-8, with a chance to get to .500 when they visit the New York Knicks Sunday night for the first of three games in four nights.

“Just resiliency. Understanding next man up mentality. Coach preaches that,” said veteran guard Garrett Temple.” We know we have enough in this locker room to win. When Ky and Caris come back, it’s going to be way more than enough to win. We have the pieces. We have to stick to the game plan. Like I said, play a different brand of basketball maybe, but we’re doing a great job of carrying out the game plan on defense and sharing the ball offensively.”

Temple has been in the starting lineup for the last five games, since LeVert went out. In Friday night’s 116-97 win over Sacramento, he scored a season-high 18 points with four 3-pointers. But defense was the key, with the Nets holding their second straight opponent under 100 points, the only two times they’ve done it this season.

Head coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged Temple and another veteran guard, the newly arrived Iman Shumpert, as significant factors.

“We needed someone who could create some activity and turnovers, and he is that kind of guy,” said Atkinson of Shumpert. “I think Garrett is the same kind of guy. So the lineup that we’re putting out there, that’s a big part of it.”

“A lot of pride in that,” said Temple. “This is the way we’re going to have to win games, especially right now with two of our leading scorers out with Ky and Caris, this is the way we’re going to have to win games. And honestly, this is the way we need to build our identity, defending. Offense is going to take of itself. We have enough people, enough pieces that can really score the ball. Defensively, if we can turn it up and play four quarters the way we did the last two games, we’re going to be good.”


For the fourth straight game — a career-high — Spencer Dinwiddie topped 20 points in Brooklyn’s win over Sacramento, scoring 23 with seven assists. Dinwiddie has started the Nets’ last four games with Kyrie Irving out, and over his last eight is averaging 23.1 points and 5.6 assists.

“Just vintage Spencer,” said Kenny Atkinson of the way Dinwiddie has stepped up to lead the offense in the absence of Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. “I think he thrives in these roles. I do think he’s kind of, he’s got to do it on the first unit and then we have him with the second unit too. He’s playing big minutes. I think he relishes it. He thrives in big situations. You’ve seen it in the past. He continues to do it.”


Shooting the three and defending the three is key for the Nets. They won the deep-shooting battle against Sacramento, a team that came in to Brooklyn ranked in the top 10 in both 3-point attempts (35.0) and 3-point percentage (38.0).

The Nets held the Kings to just 26 attempts, nine below their average, and four makes, for a 15.4 percentage. Primary shooter Buddy Hield was just 1-for-8 from deep.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s Joe Harris shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range, including a 4-of-5 burst early in the third quarter that broke open the game. It was a bit of a slump-busting game for Harris, who had been 8-for-32 over the previous six games.

“It’s like us with Buddy Hield,” said Atkinson. “We know we have to slow down Buddy or else it could be a long night. The difficult task for great shooters and great scorers like those guys is that the other team focuses in on them. Teams know when they play us they’ve got to slow Joe down. It’s just part of it. So we’ve got to find better ways to get him more looks. I think there was an effort tonight to get him looks. I thought DeAndre sprung him with some great screens. Jarrett got him a couple times. We were looking for him tonight. Big part of our offense. We’ve got to find a way to get him more looks.”


After the game, the Nets announced that Kyrie Irving will skip the upcoming road trip against the Knicks, Cavaliers and Celtics and be reevaluated after the team returns. Brooklyn’s next home game is next Friday against Boston.


The Nets won the first meeting against the Knicks this season, 113-109 at Barclays Center on Oct. 25.

The Knicks will be on the second half of a back-to-back when the play the Nets on Sunday, and they go into Saturday night’s game against Philadelphia with a 4-11 record. They’re last in the league in offensive rating (103.2) and 29th in points per game (101.9). The Knicks are also 28th in pace (98.73). They’re 10th in the league in 3-point percentage (36.7) but 28th in 3-point attempts (28.3).

Forward Marcus Morris is leading the Knicks with 18.8 points per game while shooting a team-high 46.4 percent from 3-point range. Julius Randle averages 16.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. Rookie R.J. Barrett is next with 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.