The Brooklyn Nets are back home, sort of, for the second half of a weekend back-to-back on Sunday night. After Saturday night’s overtime win in Detroit, they’ll be across the river at Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks at 6:00 p.m.
The Nets put a five-game losing streak behind them on Saturday night, thanks largely to a 45-point night from Kyrie Irving, who scored 45 points with seven assists and six rebounds, including a big 15-point surge early in the third quarter that wiped out Detroit’s 10-point halftime lead.
“Kyrie set the tone,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I think first two possessions second half he went to the rim, got fouled, scored a layup and now it loosened the defense up.”
Brooklyn made some lineup changes and rotations shifts for the game, moving Garrett Temple into the starting lineup and bringing Spencer Dinwiddie off the bench. The Nets kept the rotation tighter than they have for much of the season, going nine deep with Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Wilson Chandler and Nic Claxton off the bench. Dinwiddie, Irving, Joe Harris, Irving and Jarrett Allen all played 36-plus minutes in the overtime game.
“It was a little bit of hunch," said Atkinson. " thought we needed to shuffle some things up. It had nothing to do with Spencer’s play, absolutely nothing. It was more, can we get Spencer in that ball-handling role a little bit more, because we all know that’s where he’s great. You saw him and Ky played a ton together tonight. They played well together. And I think Garrett Temple gives us that defensive kind of stopper mentality in that first group. You can put him on the best player, doesn’t wear Spencer down early. I know that’s a ton of thought, but that was the thinking there. And like I said, it’s really who finishes the game. Spencer finished the game and really was our defensive stopper at the end of the game against Derrick Rose.”
Allen finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, including nine points in the final four minutes of regulation plus overtime. The Nets were plus-21 on the scoreboard in Allen’s 40 minutes on the floor.
“That’s the Jarrett Allen we need,” said Atkinson. “He was fantastic. Physically, his rebounding, his physicality. And then, Ky trusted him at the end of the game. Ky hit him with a couple passes, Spencer hit him with a lob. He’s a heck of a player for a 21-year-old kid.”
ANOTHER 10-DAY FOR TLC
The Nets announced on Saturday that they’ve signed guard/forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to a second 10-day contract. Luwawu-Cabarrot began the season as a two-way player and, after spending much of the first month of the season with the Long Island Nets in the G League, has been a regular part of Brooklyn’s rotation since mid-November.
While fans, players and the media had their say about the All-Star Game starters that were announced last Thursday, it’s now the coaches’ turn to vote for the reserves that will be announced this week.
“I will talk to the staff about it,” said Kenny Atkinson after Friday’s practice. “We’ll talk about it at dinner tonight. I’d like to get their opinions, because these guys watch the league more than me and watch other teams because they’re scouting and all that, so I’ll love to get their opinions. We do do that as a group.”
ABOUT THE KNICKS
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Nets and Knicks. The Nets won 113-109 at Barclays Center on Oct. 25 and 103-101 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 24. The Knicks won the most recent meeting, 94-82 at Barclays Center on Dec. 26. The Knicks are 12-34 and have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
The Knicks are 26th in the NBA in field goal percentage (43.5), 25th in 3-point percentage (33.9) and 30th in free throw percentage (69.5) while ranking 27th in offensive rating (104.6). They are seventh in rebounds per game (46.1) and lead the league in offensive rebounds per game (12.0) while ranking fourth in second-chance points (14.7).
Forward Marcus Morris is fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (45.4) and leads the Knicks with 19.1 points per game. Forward Julius Randle averages 18.9 points per game and leads the team with 9.2 rebounds per game. Rookie RJ Barrett is New York’s third-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game, but is currently out with a sprained ankle.