By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Nets and Knicks traded blowouts in their first two meetings earlier this season, and Wednesday night was no exception, as the Knicks beat the Nets 110-81 at Madison Square Garden.
The turning point in this one was a 10-0 run by the Knicks at the end of the first quarter to give them a 29-20 lead. The run was capped by a thunderous Carmelo Anthony dunk and a Tim Hardaway, Jr. three-pointer with no time on the clock, and after it, Hardaway did a windmill motion with his right arm taunting the Nets. Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the first quarter, "We had some turnovers, they capitalized on it. We had some good looks. It was still a game but they were the better team tonight."
The Knicks' momentum continued into the second quarter, started by a Hardaway, Jr. three-pointer, an Iman Shumpert layup, and Shumpert setting up Tyson Chandler for an alley-oop that made it 36-22.
Soon after that, at the 8:56 mark, Andray Blatche was called for a foul going for a loose ball, off a J.R. Smith miss, against Tyson Chandler. Blatche was called for a foul, which prompted the ire of Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd, who drew a rare technical foul.
If Kidd did this to get his team going, it didn't work, as the Knicks poured it on, and led by as many as 25 points, at 61-36, with a minute left in the first half. The Knicks led 63-38 at halftime and shot an impressive 66.7 percent from the field, or 24-for-36.
In the third quarter, the Nets started to chip away. A Joe Johnson three-pointer made it 70-50 Knicks 3:38 into the third. On the next possession, off a J.R. Smith miss, Raymond Felton went up for the rebound in the lane and landed hard on his shoulder. It was a scary few moments as Felton lay motionless on the court. He would leave the game and returned in the fourth quarter to a nice ovation. Felton said of the injury after the game, "Very sore, I'll be alright...I got hit a couple of times coming off of some screens but that fall put the icing on the cake."
The Nets cut the deficit to 15, at 72-57, on Paul Pierce free throws with 3:37 left in the third. This was the kind of night that just when the Nets started to have momentum, it would be halted. On the very next possession, Pierce was called for a flagrant foul on a shot by Shumpert on the baseline. This was a tough, somewhat unfair call, as Pierce reached his arm forward in an attempt to block the ball, not to hit Shumpert in the face. Shumpert hit his two free throws, and that started a run in which the Knicks put the game away, taking an 82-61 lead into the fourth. The Knicks' biggest lead was 33 in the fourth when a Jeremy Tyler jumper made it 103-70.
Carmelo Anthony, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds for his 22nd double double of the season, said of the win, "Tim (Hardaway, Jr.), Iman (Shumpert), J.R. Smith started the game off hot. Amar'e (Stoudemire)...we wanted to take advantage of that. Everyone played a big part. Everyone played their role and contributed and we got a big win tonight."
Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson said of the win tonight, "Our guys are hungry. Normally anybody comes off the Wast Coast...that game getting back is a tough game. Our guys came out with energy and ready to play. It was a 48-minute performance tonight and we will need that the rest of the way."
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of the loss, "It happens. It is the schedule. We played last night and we came out sluggish. You have to give New York credit...they won the game." Kidd continued, "They made shots. We will go back and look at it and get ready for Detroit (Friday night in Brooklyn)."
With the win, the Knicks' 12th in their last 15 games, New York is now in the 8th playoff spot, percentage points ahead of the Atlanta Hawks, who lost to the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks are 33-43 with a .434 winning percentage, and Atlanta is 32-42 with a .432 winning percentage.
Woodson said of the playoff race, "Anything is possible. I have never given up hope in terms of our team and the direction where we could go and should be. As a coach you keep pushing buttons and find the right buttons. That is my job as a coach and our players have responded. They want to get to the playoffs...that shows a lot about our locker room."
IN MEMORIAM: Marcus Henry, a Newsday sports writer who covered the Nets, Knicks, and college basketball, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 41. Marcus always had a smile on his face and was one of the friendliest guys in the press box. He will be missed.