Well, that sucked. As we all know, the Nets are not a very good team. Hell, I'll say it: the Nets are a bad team. Regardless, the Knicks played pretty much the entire game from behind, thanks to a combination of abysmal defense beyond the arc and poor shooting. That is, poor shooting by everyone other than Derrick Williams. D-Will attempted to win the damn thing by himself, tying his career high with 31 points. But again, his effort alone (and it really did feel like the effort came solely from Williams at times) was not enough to put the Knicks over the hump.
This game was lost in the first and fourth quarters. Both teams came out bricking shots left and right before the Nets went on an early 10-0 run. Seven minutes into the game, New York had scored only 9 points, and though they picked it up a bit before the end of the quarter, Brooklyn finished the quarter ahead 29-20. Just to demonstrate the embarrassing nature of that deficit, Ian Eagle noted on the YES broadcast that it was the first time the Nets had scored more than 27 points in a quarter in 23 quarters (h/t to Prof. Miranda for alerting me to that one). Luckily, Derrick Williams awoke in the second, pushing the pace and jamming it in the Nets' collective face as he racked up an impressive 15 points on 5 shots. The Knicks went into the half down by 3.
In the third, New York held steady, but couldn't quite get over the hump until Williams put them ahead 75-74 with 14 seconds remaining in the quarter. They even went up by 5 at one point early in the fourth! Alas, it was not meant to be. The Knicks offense stopped hitting shots again, the Nets (especially Brook Lopez) started getting whatever they wanted in the paint, and a Joe Johnson dagger with about 90 seconds remaining put the game to bed.
Look, the Knicks were going to drop a deuce eventually, and it's probably best that it happened tonight considering Carmelo Anthony sat with a sprained right ankle. But like JR and the Off-Balance Shots put it in the game thread, this was an "annoying game" nonetheless. I'll try to keep my notes short so we can move on with our lives:
- So yeah, this would've been a freakin' blowout if Derrick Williams hadn't gone off. 31 points on 11/17 shooting and 9/11 from the line along with 7 rebounds. D-Will stays energizing this team off the bench whenever they get sluggish, and tonight certainly qualified. It's a ton of fun watching him sky for rebounds then drive right to the rim in transition. That's something a lot of other Knicks *cough*Jose Calderon*cough* seem loath to do. He got a little too fancy in the fourth (I'm thinking specifically of one possession in which he posted up and missed badly), but it was still an excellent performance.
- Williams will never be mistaken for a competent defender, but like I alluded to in the previous note, he can really really really get up for rebounds, which makes up for it somewhat. And, of course, if he's gonna basically carry the offense for long stretches, it's easy to live with his faults.
- I figured Arron Afflalo would attempt to shoulder the scoring load, and it certainly seemed that way early on, as he attempted 4 of the Knicks' first 10 shots. He quieted down after that, though. Arron finished 8/16 for 18 points, but 6 of those came from two long 3 pointers in garbage time.
- It pains me to say this, but Kristaps Porzingis had a kinda shitty game. It's crazy to suggest that 12 points and 10 boards is kinda shitty, but he couldn't get his shot to fall consistently (5/17), took only 3 foul shots, and didn't play the excellent defense we're used to him playing. He also, in what is becoming a daily occurrence, missed a monster dunk attempt.
- Robin Lopez scored 6 of his 9 points on back-to-back-to-back baskets late in the first half. He was very interested in showing his brother up all game, but especially for that short stretch. The best part of Lopez v. Lopez, however, was when Robin was called for a foul early in the game on what replays showed was a clean block of Brook. Robin was incensed; Brook literally chuckled his way to the free throw line. Whatever, Brook. Maybe let your hair grow a little, then we can talk about who's better.
- Here's a sad game to play! It's called "How did the Knicks Other than D-Will Shoot if we Ignore Afflalo's Garbage-Time Threes?" Well, dear reader, they shot 38.9% from the field, 29.4% from long distance, and 50% from the line. Yuck.
- The Nets, meanwhile, connected on 52.9% of their three-point attempts. The Nets are normally terrible at hitting threes. Have I told you the Knicks didn't play well tonight?
- Random viewing note: "The Lounges at MSG" sounds like the name of an apartment building in one of those BS upscale city centers.
Alright, that's it. I could probably say some more about this game, but why would anyone want me to? Unfortunately (fortunately?), the Knicks don't play again until Saturday in Memphis. Hopefully Melo will be back at full strength by then. For now, click this link and get tonight's game out of your mind.