Recap: Nets 91, Knicks 108 - There is No Hope
After the Brooklyn Nets longest win streak of this bleak season (2), with wins against the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns, there may have been some positivity around this team. But last night’s 108-91 blowout loss (it wasn’t that close) to their cross-town (big brother) rivals, the Knicks, on national television was a sharp reminder of just how bad things are for this Nets franchise right now.
The Knicks and Nets shared a rocky few seasons over the last few years. They both cultivated high expectations only to top out as mediocre and then have things go horribly wrong (Knicks last season, Nets this season) on their way to the basement of the NBA standings. But the one thing the Knicks had even last season, and especially this season is hope and for the Brooklyn Nets right now, there is no hope.
And no one player embodies that better than Kristaps Porzingis. The #4 pick brings a certain type of hope. The Knicks endured one of their worst seasons in recent memory last season and a high lottery pick was their prize for that hardship. But ping pong bounces and unknowns make the idea of a high lottery pick inspiring of hope but also a certain fear. No team wants to be the one that drafted Anthony Bennett. But with rookies, there is always risk.
But the hope that a 20-year-old 7’4″ Latvian who delivers on the projections of rim protection, rebounding, and outside shooting emphatically within his first 20 games in the NBA is real. It’s the type of hope that gets Carmelo Anthony excited to play in New York again. It’s the type of hope that makes Knicks fans feel as though the future is bright. It’s the type of hope that Net fans can only dream of.
For the Knicks that hope was inspiring in the dominant 42-21 first quarter that essentially sealed last night’s game. Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, and yes, Kristaps Porzingis combined for 29 points on 10-14 shooting in that quarter. Afflalo was perfect from the floor, and Carmelo knocked down three 3-pointers early a dangerous sign for opponents, but it was Kristaps stepping out and knocking down a top of the key three or catching and finishing an awkward runner from 12-feet on a pick and roll pass from Calderon that caught everyone’s attention.
For the Nets, well their ‘hope’ resides on rookies Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Willie Reed who made his NBA debut last night. Hollis-Jefferson has had moments this season, but his lack of offensive production is still a huge problem in the starting lineup. He played in only 18 minutes scoring only 2 points, grabbing 3 rebounds, and posting a plus/minus of -21.
Willie Reed provided some energy to a bench unit in the midst of a blowout; hardly the best of circumstances for evaluation, but promising nonetheless. The Nets may feel just fine about Andrea Bargnani’s latest injury as the Reed-Thomas Robinson tandem was active on both ends of the floor. We may see more of that. Reed finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds in 10 minutes of play while Robinson finished with 10 and 8 in 13 minutes.
Of course, it wasn’t just Porzingis for the Knicks, though he finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots shooting 7-13 from the floor and 3-4 from long range. Carmelo scored 28 including 5-8 from the 3-point line. Afflalo finished with 18. The Knicks bench scored with the Nets bench (35 to the Net’s 36) despite the Nets advantage in garbage time. The Knicks had 25 assists on their 39 made field goals while the Nets had only 15 on the same amount.
That highlights the biggest weakness of the Nets all season. The Knicks and Nets made the same number of field goals in this game and the Knicks won by 17. While the Knicks knocked down 12 out of 27 3-point shots, the Nets went only 3 for 11.
Robin Lopez played solid defense on his brother Brook making him work for his 21 points (8-20 shooting). Thaddeus Young effectively matched Porzingis’ output finishing with 18 and 11 in his own slippery way. But that was the thing last night. Jarret Jack and Jose Calderon are both merely adequate NBA starting point guards. Carmelo and Brook Lopez are similar offensive forces (although, surely Carmelo can have a larger impact at times with the ball in his hands). Thaddeus Young is surely as impactful at his position as Arron Afflalo is at his. The difference in every way between these two teams was Kristaps Porzingis.
His 19 points in a 17-point win. His stirring of the Madison Square Garden crowd with every made 3-pointer, or step back jumper on the baseline, or floater in the lane, or soft turnaround hook, or blocked shot initiating a fast break, or corralling of a rebound in traffic.
For the Nets, after seeing that hope in action both with the Knicks play on the court and with a sellout Madison Square Garden crowd … well, Bubbles put it best, “Thin line between heaven and here.”
- Jarret Jack had a very poor night against one of the worst defensive point guards in the NBA in Jose Calderon. He scored 5 points on 2-6 shooting with 1 assist. Calderon only scored 1 point, but he did dish out ten dimes.
- The Nets are 29th in the NBA (behind the Lakers and only above the incredibly inept 76ers) in offensive rating with a 96.3. They are dead last in 3-pointers made (4.6), 3-pointers attempted (13.6), and 3-point shooting percentage (29.6%) in the NBA.
- A few days after ESPN’s Mike Mazzeo reported that the Nets were investigating trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, he scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds on 3 of 4 shooting.
- Lionell Hollins called the blowout loss ‘a nightmare’ post game. (via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News).