The Nets have not yet hit the All-Star break, but they can still check off being on the bad end of a four-game series sweep to none other than the New York Knicks.
Behind a dominant 28 points from Kristaps Porzingis and 20 points and 20 rebounds from Enes Kanter, the Nets fell to Knicks 111-95 Tuesday night. The Knicks averaged a 14.7-point margin of victory over their cross-town rival, resulting in the largest disparity in a series in Nets-Knicks history.
Brooklyn missed the impact of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, who both were out due to groin injuries. The team also missed Tyler Zeller in the paint, who went from being a consistent starter to not entering the rotation Tuesday night.
Jason Webb III took up Zeller’s missed minutes and then some, but went 0-of-4 from three and did not register a point. Meanwhile, Jarrett Allen became the youngest NBA player to start a game at Madison Square Garden, making all six of his shots and adding four rebounds.
Despite both teams getting off to hot starts in the first quarter, the Nets eventually lost their shot and had a hard time finding it for the rest of the game. The two teams traded 10-point runs in the second quarter, but still, the Nets were down 20 points at halftime after letting the Knicks score 31 points in the second frame.
Brooklyn outscored the Knicks 54-50 in the second half, but the Nets again found themselves in a 25-point hole they could not dig themselves out of.
Notably, the Knicks committed just 13 fouls all game, with the Nets committing 21 that led to 25 New York free throw attempts. While Brooklyn did not attempt a free throw until the second half of the second quarter, the team did finish the game 14-of-16 from the charity stripe.
The Nets also continued to struggle from three, making 9-of-36, good for 25 percent. The Knicks, meanwhile, made a more efficient 13-of-26 (50 percent). That’s Brooklyn’s third straight game with nine three-pointers made or fewer, all losses.
With key players out, Brooklyn did not have what it took to crack New York’s code. With the loss, the Nets fell to 0-9 when playing teams in-division.
As D’Angelo Russell continues to struggle to find his stride, various players are slumping and injuries are occurring, some home cooking on Wednesday night (and the All-Star Break) cannot come soon enough for the Nets.
6 PTS, 2-5 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 REB, 1 TOV, 10 MIN
Isaiah Whitehead gave solid minutes for the second straight game, even though these were in garbage time. Still, it is good to see him stick around and show how he has improved in Long Island.
Hey, at least Isaiah Whitehead looks good.
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 31, 2018
12 PTS, 6-6 FG, 4 REB, 2 TOV, 20 MIN
After recording his first career start and becoming the youngest NBA player to start at MSG, Allen put up a strong performance. It is unfair to say he allowed Kanter and Porzignis to thrive because he is not the only one to blame, but there was a moment Kenny Atkinson was clearly unhappy with his defense when he addressed him heading into a timeout.
Atkinson also said Allen being put against Porzingis early was “baptism by fire” on YES after the game, and he improved after that. Being promoted to the starting position seems well-deserved, even though coach said he did not plan to do it until after All-Star Break.
12 PTS, 5-14 FG, 2-6 3FG, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 TOV, 24 MIN
Allen Crabbe struggled a bit from the field but was one of the only Nets producing. He was a big part of Brooklyn’s runs, even though they did not amount to the close finish Nets fans are used to.
8 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2-3 3FG, 6 REB, 1 AST, 1 TOV, 24 MIN
With Allen starting alongside Quincy Acy tonight, Acy spent more time at the five, where the Nets were more successful. He had a strong night in terms of shooting and rebounding. Preferably, his contribution would usually act as a boost to what Brooklyn’s usual role players supply, but the Nets were lacking that.
One player stepping up in Acy cannot make up for the whole of two missing key players, but he tried nonetheless.