In the first matchup between the brand-new Nets and the new-look Knicks, the two competitors were neck-and-neck until an injury derailed Madison Square Garden’s Tuesday night track meet.
Halfway through the third with the game tied, Kris Humphries contested a shot from Wilson Chandler and, in the process, came down on Devin Harris underneath the hoop. Chandler’s shot went in, the Knicks went up, Harris went out for the game with a left knee injury and the Nets went down in a 111-100 loss.
Winning time: The Knicks took immediate advantage of Harris’ injury, going on a 10-2 run led by Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton once the Nets’ point guard left the game. A tie game midway through the third became a 10-point New York lead in the span of three minutes. The gap widened to 15 points by the end of the quarter and the Knicks never looked back.
How the game was won: While the game hinged on Harris’ departure, it was certainly not the only factor to blame in the Nets’ loss. New Jersey’s interior defense was seriously lacking tonight, allowing 60 points in the paint. Stoudemire lit up the Garden while Chandler and Felton were supremely effective at getting to the hoop. Though the Nets didn’t get beat on the perimeter, allowing just 4-of-19 shooting from deep, the easy buckets for New York didn’t allow the Nets to keep pace in what was a high-octane contest. Though Kris Humphries helped the Nets battle inside early, he was also absent for a long stretch shortly following his fall and Troy Murphy and company couldn’t answer the bell defensively.
Overall, the Knicks shot over 51 percent and their 111 points greatly outdistanced the Nets’ season average of 96 points allowed per game.
The Knicks outscored the Nets 33-15 in the decisive third quarter, as New Jersey went 5-of-19 from the field, compared with New York’s 11-of-21 shooting. Nine of those 11 makes were from inside the paint. Brook Lopez absolutely chewed up Stoudemire, Timofey Mozgov and the Knicks’ defenders all night, notching a season-high 36 points in the process, but the team’s scoring lull in the latter half of the third doomed New Jersey.
The Nets, unlike the Knicks, did not take advantage of their biggest run of the game. New Jersey went up nine in the closing minutes of the second quarter, but that lead was slashed to three by halftime. By fending off New Jersey’s biggest challenge of the game, the Knicks seemed to set themselves up nicely for their big second half.
Player of the game: Although he didn’t do well to contain Lopez defensively, Stoudemire was an absolute handful on the offensive end. His 35 points were the most by any individual against the Nets this season. Amare was 13-for-22 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.
Key stat lines:
New York (10-9)
- Wilson Chandler: 9-of-15 shooting, 27 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
- Raymond Felton: 10-of-15 shooting, 21 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals
- Danilo Gallinari: 3-of-11 shooting, 13 points, 6 rebounds
New Jersey (6-12)
- Brook Lopez: 14-of-24 shooting, 36 points (season high), 5 rebounds, 3 blocks
- Jordan Farmar: 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-6 3-point shooting, 17 points (season high), 4 assists
- Travis Outlaw: 5-of-9 shooting, 13 points
- Devin Harris: 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals (22 minutes)
One takeaway from tonight’s game: In his post-game interview with reporters, Harris sounded cautiously optimistic about his injury, saying that Nets trainer Tim Walsh called his knee “stable.” After staying down on the ground for a few minutes following the fall, he was able to walk off the court and he said he can put pressure on it, but added that he does hurt when he tries to bend it in certain ways. He stated that the swelling isn’t too bad, but no one can know for sure how severe the injury is until tomorrow’s MRI. Avery Johnson has already ruled him out for tomorrow’s game with Oklahoma City. Until then, Nets fans have to hold their collective breath, because any news about a sustained absence for Harris, who’s been the Nets’ most important player this season, would most likely mean a huge setback for the Nets’ season.