The Nets have not had many nail-biters this season, but Monday night’s result came down to the wire.
After letting the Knicks fight their way back from an 18-point deficit, the Nets held on for a 117-112 win over their crosstown rival. That is 13 wins over Brooklyn’s last 14 games, for those keeping track.
The Nets got off to a hot start offensively against the Knicks as they shot 64% from the field in the first half. It seemed Brooklyn would get their way in a comfortable victory.
That changed quickly, though, as the Nets had to grind out a late-game push by the Knicks, who came within three of Brooklyn in the final minute. New York had its chances to tie things up as three players registered 20+ points, but Julius Randle was called for a travel on the final possession and James Harden iced the game with free throws.
Julius Randle was called for a travel down 3 and under 5 seconds remaining.
Nets hold on to beat the Knicks. pic.twitter.com/VssyVvtzOr
— ESPN (@espn) March 16, 2021
The Knicks were able to build momentum off Brooklyn’s 15 turnovers, which New York turned into 19 points — poor inbounding played a part in that. Meanwhile, N.Y. turned the ball over just eight times as they out-scored the Nets 28-21 in the final quarter.
The Nets had chances to go up by 20+ but had difficulty executing consistently. Brooklyn earned an edge in the paint with 58 points scored inside compared to the Knicks’ 40, while New York was held to 40.8% shooting compared to the Nets’ 57.9%.
Brooklyn was able to out-perform the Knicks’ defense, as close as they squeaked by down the stretch. Jeff Green was a key part of that with 17 first-half points while Kyrie Irving recorded a team-high 34 points and Harden added his 10th triple-double as a Net.
It was not the Nets’ strongest display this season, and they know that. The game did not have to get to the point where the Knicks willed their way back within one possession in the final minute.
The two teams will face one another again on April 5, with the Knicks potentially holding more motivation with how this game ended. For now, the Nets will take the victory.
Next up: A reunion with Caris LeVert against the Pacers on Wednesday.
The stats: 21 PTS, 6-15 FG, 0-5 3PT, 9-9 FT, 15 REB, 15 AST, 1 BLK, 7 TO, 40 MIN
The first 15-point, 15-assist and 15-rebound stat line in Nets history belongs to James Harden.
Harden ➡️ Jordan
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 16, 2021
Harden acknowledged after the game that he needs to keep down his turnovers, but his triple-doubles continue to get more impressive. Since his shot was not falling consistently again, he did more of his damage at the free-throw line where he was a perfect 9-9.
Harden has gone 0-of-11 from three-point range over the past two games. This is nothing to start worrying about, but the Nets will likely be able to extend their margins of victory once Harden gets his groove back from three.
The stats: 34 PTS, 13-18 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-6 FT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, 37 MIN
Kyrie had the magic touch against the Knicks.
It's just magic.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 16, 2021
Kyrie was a highlight machine as he helped lead the Nets’ hot start on offense. He scored four of the team’s 12 three-pointers and made some key shots down the stretch.
Kyrie has looked his best in recent weeks, particularly following the All-Star break. Some of the pressure will be taken off him once Kevin Durant returns, but in the meantime, his offense has kept Brooklyn ahead in recent close contests.
The stats: 20 PTS, 8-11 FG, 2-2 3PT, 2-3 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK, 34 MIN
Jeff Green was nearly unstoppable in the first half.
UNCLE JEFF WITH AUTHORITY pic.twitter.com/Gbw393KUwt
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 16, 2021
Uncle Jeff’s 17 first-half points were key en route to the Nets building their 18-point lead. His connection with Harden was on display in working the paint and perimeter.
Green helped pick up for lost production as Landry Shamet could not find his shot off the bench. He was quiet in the second half, but his energy out of the gate set the tone early as the Nets got nearly whatever they wanted on offense.
The stats: 13 PTS, 5-11 FG, 3-8 3PT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 34 MIN
Joe may not be shooting the lights out, but his reliable offense is important in close games like Monday’s.
Joe shows his versatility as his three-point shot has been a bit inconsistent, at least to Joe’s standards. He continues to drive the lane and be active on defense to help get the team off on the right foot.
He had some trouble with defensive traps by the Knicks down the stretch, but that was not a one-person issue. Joe is capable of scoring 20 points per night, and he is likely to have big performances again soon.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 2-4 FT, 9 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 30 MIN
DeAndre played a key role on the offensive boards, meaning he grabbed the ONLY three offensive boards for the Nets during the night.
The Knicks out-rebounded the Nets 13-3 on the offensive glass, though the teams were tied with 48 total rebounds per game. DJ nearly recorded a double-double while connecting for some looks inside.
DJ does not always have a top impact, but his boards were pretty valuable for a team that gave away too many second chances. Nic Claxton played well off the bench but played limited minutes as the Nets often went small, giving DeAndre more opportunity in his playing time.