This rivalry has been juiced to its very core, so much that the manufactured push hardly registers a blip anymore. The Knicks are a conference bottom-feeder, the Nets struggling to stay in the least inspiring playoff race in memory.
But the two still found a way to put together a competitive, back-and-forth, and even occasionally entertaining game. Sure, it was mostly a fight of which team would suffer the most lapses on both ends, with the Nets’ heavy reliance on the mid-range facing off against a Knicks triangle that had all the spacing of the N train at rush hour.
But the Nets made enough shots down the stretch — punctuated by an easy, open floater for Brook Lopez and a wide-open three-pointer for Jarrett Jack created by Joe Johnson — to win the borough battle.
Now, the Nets are on the road until March, which means with a 2-0 record, they follow up an entire January without a home victory by going undefeated at home in February.
Big impact on both ends of the floor, racking up blocks inside on driving wings and bigs and getting position in the paint for buckets. The few shots the Knicks hit against his defense were just tough shots. Not a pristine effort, particularly with some bad fouls late, but as good as you can expect from him on that end.
Much of Lopez’s damage came in the paint: Lopez can step out and hit jumpers, but it should not be a focal point of his game, and his success inside with Plumlee — an interior-focused offensive player — out of the game spoke volumes towards why the tandem has struggled together this season.