Nets vs. Knicks Recap: Nets still own New York in Blowout Fashion

After the close loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the Brooklyn Nets traveled back home to take on crosstown rivals, the New York Knicks. Heading into the game, there were many uncertainties surrounding the team. Former assistant and interim coach Jacque Vaughn became the new head coach of the Nets, Kyrie Irving was still suspended, what did the future hold? However, with all the questions, one thing was for certain, the Nets will still beat the Knicks. In what was a masterclass performance from Kevin Durant and the rest of the team, great coaching by Vaughn, the Nets put on a show. In a wire-to-wire blowout, Brooklyn put a statement, winning 112-85.

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The Nets started the game scorching hot and set the tone defensively. The team quickly went on a 7-2 run to start the game. From that point on, it was all Brooklyn. Outside of Knicks star Julius Randle hitting four threes, the defense held the Knicks to just 35 percent from the field, and caused three turnovers. For Brooklyn, superstar Kevin Durant continued his scoring spree, scoring 11 in the quarter. Durant was also the primary facilitator, dishing out six assists. Nets guard Edmond Sumner surprised many, as he went 3/3 from downtown. Overall, the Nets shot 60 percent from the field, and 54.5 percent from three. The ball movement was crisp, as there was 13 assists to the 15 made field goals. After one, the Nets opened up a big 38-22 lead.

The second quarter the Nets continued to blow the lead open. Defensively, the Nets created more havoc, as the Knicks could not get any rhythm offensively. Brooklyn’s hot shooting on the other hand, continued. This time however, it was Seth Curry’s turn to take over the game. The Nets sharpshooter has been struggling to get into rhythm as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery, and this breakout performance was needed. Quickly, Curry lit up the scoreboard with 12 points, nine coming from shots beyond the arc. Heading into halftime, the Nets had ballooned their lead to 25, up 69-44.

However, third quarter collapses have been an issue for Brooklyn this season. Thankfully, that did not happen tonight. Though the Nets struggled from the field, the team defense still managed to keep the Knicks shooting 33 percent from the field. Unfortunately for the Knicks, their attempt to get back into the game, the “comeback” was for naught. New York only got within 15 points before the Nets ended the quarter bringing their lead up to 21. Heading into the fourth, the score was 92-71.

The fourth quarter was largely garbage time minutes. However, the Nets still played with great effort to close out the game, no matter who was on the floor. Durant continued his streak of consecutive games scoring 25+ points, and finished with a triple double. Brooklyn cruised to a blowout 112-85 victory.

Great Vibes

With the victory, this has been the 9th straight game the Nets have beaten the Knicks. Therefore the Nets, and their fans, can continue to say they run New York! Overall, this masterclass performance was a complete team effort. Continuing from the positive play we have seen since Vaughn took over for the fired Steve Nash, the team played hard. On the defensive side of things, players hounded the ball, switched appropriately, and created havoc. Under Vaughn as head coach, both in interim and official, the Nets have held teams under 100 points in four straight games. Right now, it is safe to say Jacque Vaughn is proving many wrong.

Offensively, the ball is moving around. Though Durant isolation plays will almost always get you a bucket, it’s great seeing the team involved in every play. Tonight, on 42 made shots, 30 were assisted. A lot of this can be due to Durant passing out of double teams, leaving someone open for an easy score. However, players can see constant movement off the ball, off-ball screens to help shooters get open, and more.

Overall, the team effort has been night and day with the coaching change. It seems that the team has responded well to Vaughn. Hopefully, the team continues to build upon these good habits and continues to grow into the championship contending team they can be. It is great to see the buy-in, seeing players hustle, not give up on the play and dive for the ball, something the Nets have not showcased in a while. One can say that “Brooklyn grit” is making its comeback.

Star Power

With fellow co-star Kyrie Irving still serving his team suspension, Durant and Ben Simmons took the floor for Brooklyn. Simmons, coming back from injury, once again came off the bench. However, the star power was a huge focal point in the Nets blowout victory.

As mentioned earlier, Durant had himself a triple double, with 29 points 12 rebounds and 12 assists. The Nets and their fans know how elite of a scorer Durant is. However, it was effort on the defensive end, and facilitating that has been a bright spot. Durant continued his two-way play that we are familiar to come by to help lead the team. Even better is what you do not see on the box score. Through body language, communication, and energy we are seeing Durant lead this team. With so many things going on, it’s great to see Durant take charge to steady the ship and help get Brooklyn to winning ways.

Ben Simmons has been a polarizing player so far in his tenure with the Nets. However, this may have been his best game yet. Keeping his personal winning streak over the Knicks alive (he has never lost to them in his career), Simmons put up a statline of six points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Though that may not seem like much, his play is more telling than the numbers.

As Simmons continues to return from both back and knee injuries, the return of his athleticism is important. Simmons is a player who greatly relies on his athleticism to be able to perform well. Tonight, we were able to see Simmons sprint back and forth down the court. Simmons flying down the court allows for many things to open up, mainly allowing space for shooters he can pass to for the open shots. Simmons athleticism is also a big catalyst in his scoring ability. Defensively, Simmons is able to use his athleticism to guard every player on the court. All these things were showcased tonight, and things can only continue to get better for Simmons, and the Nets.

Looking Forward and Westward Bound

After the victory, Brooklyn now has a 5-7 record, and are 11th in the Eastern Conference. Though that may seem discouraging, the team has rallied after their slow start. The Nets have begun to look like a quality team, and are taking the steps needed to become contenders in the Eastern Conference, and even to become Finals contenders. The metrics also show the improvement. Currently, Brooklyn ranks 14th in net rating. The offense remains one of the better offenses ranking 14th. However, it is the defense that has greatly improved. Since starting the season with the worst defense in the league, the team has turned it around in the past two weeks, as they now rank 11th in defensive rating. The constant improvement should be a great sign for Brooklyn moving forward.

After the brief one game homestand, the Nets are back on the road. The next four games will be all on the West Coast, starting this Saturday at Arena in Los Angeles. The Nets will look to continue their improved play and try to beat Paul George and his Clippers, who have been playing well with the indefinite absence of co-star Kawhi Leonard. The Saturday matinee will tip off at 4 PM EST, and will be broadcast on YES Network.