The Brooklyn Nets were able to hold off their crosstown rivals, the Manhattan Knicks Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, 88-85. The Nets had the lead for most of the first half and third quarter until the Knicks rallied to take a small lead heading into the fourth. The fourth quarter featured many lead changes, but Joe Johnson gave the Nets the lead for good when he made an isolation jump shot in the final 30 seconds of the game. Johnson finished with 25 points in the game, while Deron Williams and Brook Lopez each had 14. Carmelo Anthony had 29 for Manhattan, but that came on 11-29 shooting from the field.
Both teams got off to a quick start in the game. Joe Johnson paced the Nets in the first quarter by hitting a couple of long 3′s and finishing with 11 points in the quarter. The Nets built their lead to as many as 10 points in the second quarter, but the Knicks closed out the quarter on a small run to give the Nets a slim 47-41 lead at halftime. We have seen many third quarter collapses from Brooklyn this year, and another one happened today. The Nets surrendered their lead and the Knicks took a 3-point lead heading into the fourth. Both teams held small leads in the final quarter and even in the final minute. Joe Johnson’s jumper with 25 seconds remaining gave the Nets the lead for good. On the next possession for Manhattan, Carmelo Anthony air-balled a baseline jump shot and the Nets were able to hold on to win the game at the foul line.
As a fan, this was a very fun game to watch and both teams really played pretty well. The unheralded hero for the Knicks was Jason Kidd, who was the one to prevent this game from getting out of hand. The former Net had 6 steals in the game while not turning the ball over once himself and he also had 11 points. If the Nets had lost this game, turnovers would have been the reason why. Brooklyn had 19 of them while Manhattan only had 5.
However, the Nets were able to win the game by winning other key statistics. Brooklyn outrebounded Manhattan 52-37, a huge margin, mainly due to Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans, and Kris Humphries. The Nets also had 23 assists to the Knicks’ 14. Shockingly, Carmelo Anthony had 7 assists, half the number of the entire team! Another key stat was 3-point shooting. The Nets gave the Knicks a taste of their own medicine tonight, making half their 3′s, 12-24. And it’s not like they were difficult 3′s that should not have went in. The Knicks left Brooklyn’s shooters wide open.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: B
Wallace’s defense on Carmelo Anthony on the final possession was one of the reasons the Nets won this game. He played consistent defense the whole night and didn’t make any dumb plays. Offensively, he was not very effective, although he did knock down a pair of 3′s. He looks to be at close to 100% now and is recovered from him rib injury.
Brook Lopez: A
Who would have thought coming into the season that the Nets would beat the Knicks because of Brook Lopez’s defense? Brook played a great defensive game and had 4 blocks, 2 of them coming in crunch time in the fourth quarter. He also outplayed Tyson Chandler, who he is competing with to get onto the east all-star roster. He finished with 14 points and 11 boards while Chandler had 7 and 11. Offensively, Brook did not have his best game going against the reigning defensive player of the year, but he was good enough.
Deron Williams: B+
With the Nets up by 2 and 5 seconds left, Deron Williams stepped up to the foul line with a streak of 52 straight foul shots made. Of course, in by far the most important moment of the streak, Deron missed, giving the Knicks a chance to tie, which they did not make. Still, Deron played pretty well today with 15 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds, but also 4 turnovers. When the Nets were running the pick and roll with Deron and Brook in the first half, it was working to perfection and they should have went back to that in the second half. Deron also had some nice assists to Joe Johnson and Kris Humphries.
Joe Johnson: A+
I guess when all else fails, go to Iso-Joe? That’s what the Nets did today and it paid off with Johnson hitting a shot to give the Nets the lead in the final half minute of the game. But besides that shot, he was great anyway. He had 25 points and almost all of them came in the first and fourth quarters. He was 8-20 from the field but 5-8 from 3, and he knocked down some very impressive, long 3′s in this game. He also had 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and defended Carmelo Anthony very well when he needed to. It appears that when Brooklyn needs a big shot this year, they will turn to Joe Johnson, and more times than not so far, he has delivered.
Kris Humphries: A
So this Kris Humphries game came out of nowhere. Humphries has barely received playing time recently, but played 27 minutes today, including lots of important minutes in the fourth quarter. And he played well. He finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds. He made Amare Stoudemire look like a terrible defensive player, which he is, so I guess that’s not too surprising. He even guarded Carmelo when neither Gerald Wallace or Keith Bogans was in the game. And he guarded him surprisingly well. I can’t recall a time when Anthony blew by Humphries for a layup.
Andray Blatche: F
This was just one of those bad Blatche games. Blatche did not score in 13 minutes. He had 2 turnovers and the two shots that he took were very low percentage, including one contested 3. Blatche has not had many of these games this year so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Keith Bogans: B
Bogans had an interesting game. He might have guarded Carmelo better than any other Net and he played ahead of Gerald Wallace for most of crunch time. He finished the game with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and two 3′s, but he also missed a wide open layup and wide open 3 in the final two minutes of the game.
Even though the Nets only had to take an uptown 2 train to get to this game, it was the first game of a 4-game road trip for Brooklyn. They will continue the trip on Wednesday against the struggling and injured Minnesota Timberwolves. FRWD will have full coverage of that game.