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Nets 111, Knicks 106: “Deja boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

Bring on the All-Star break. My mental health needs time away from this team.

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

How many times does this have to happen? Once again, the Knicks had a double-digit lead, this time by as many as 28 points in the first half. Once again, they completely collapsed in the second half. Once again, the season has never looked more hopeless. Yet another new low in a campaign full of heartbreaking collapses.

The Brooklyn Nets aren’t much of a team without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. During the first half, they looked more like the squad that had recently lost 11 straight and less like an Eastern Conference contender. Someone unfamiliar with the Knicks in 2022 would’ve been justified in assuming this contest would end as a blowout.

The Knicks must have been excited about their upcoming All-Star break because they came out sizzling, hitting their first six three-pointers. They won the first quarter, 38-18.

All the starters shot well, going 8-of-11 from deep in Q1. Julius Randle was an offensive beast, finishing the first half with 20 points, six boards, and two dimes. Naturally, he offset that with turnovers, not always running up the floor, and the occasional travel, but it is hard to complain when these are swishing:

From downtown, Evan Fournier shot 3-of-6, Quentin Grimes went 2-of-2, and Cam Reddish got in on the action with one of his own. Even Immanuel Quickley, whose shooting has been a concern of late, went 2-of-2 from the perimeter. Look at this beautiful montage:

Obi Toppin was dunkin:

And Grimes gave us this gem:

By intermission, the Knicks lead 65-44. They had hit 13-of-23 threes, good for 57%, and had 19 fast break points to the Nets’ none. We know these Knicks, though. We knew it was too good to last.

The Nets came out of halftime determined to close the gap. In less than two minutes, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Andre Drummond put together an 8-0 run and cut the lead to 13. Thibs had to call a quick timeout to stave the bleeding. The Knicks had gone cold, though, started playing sloppy, and heaved up a few questionable shots. I saw ghosts of New York’s third quarters past.

The lead dwindled to nine points with about five minutes left in Q3. Thibs, the time-out master, waved his TO wand again. He kept the starters in the game despite their abrupt lack of cohesion. Thankfully, Quickley subbed in for Fournier at 3:47 and nailed two threes to secure the lead:

The Knicks headed into the fourth quarter up 87-73. This time, Thibodeau sent out Alec Burks, Quickly, Reddish, Toppin, and Robinson. And wouldn’t you know, this assortment played with pace and moved the ball well.

At 7:54 Randle re-entered the game. Three minutes later, the score was tied. It wasn’t all Randle’s fault: Reddish chucked an ugly three attempt, Burks missed a bunny, Fournier forgot how to handle a basketball, and Cam Thomas flexed massively for the Nets. But once again, Julius became a fourth-quarter black hole of offensive inefficiency. The ball goes in, the offense disappears. When Steve Nash called a timeout at 3:24, the score was knotted at 99.

After the timeout, Thibs put the starters back in. The Nets went up 104-101 with a minute and change left. The telecast showed a graphic of the last two 20+ leads the Knicks had given up, to the Lakers and the Blazers, and both resulted in losses. Thanks for the salt in the wound, ESPN.

The Nets were ahead 106-103 with 50 seconds left when the Knicks played one of their ugliest defensive sequences of the season. Trust me, it was ineptitude defined. Nash called a timeout with 16 seconds left. Cam Thomas got the ball, drained a three. Other stuff happened. The buzzer sounded. The Knicks had lost again.

Tonight’s quote comes from ISwearImNotJamesDolan. According to Stefan Bondy, the real Jim Dolan left his seat in a huff when Cam Thomas stuck a 30-foot fork in the game. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a shake-up by the time the Knicks return to face the Heat on February 25. Let’s all bow our heads and pray.

NOTES:

· Silver linings: The Knicks shot 16-18 from the charity stripe tonight.

· After going 13-of-23, New York finished the game 16-of-43 from behind the arc.

· Newest Nets, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond played alright. Curry finished with 20 points and six assists, and Drummond logged 11 points and 19 rebounds.

· While watching the game on ESPN, I also had their play-by-play feed open in my laptop browser. The broadcast had a 20-second delay, and the play-by-play was reporting things that had yet to happen on the TV screen. My computer told me that Toppin would miss that 25-footer, and then he did; it said that Curry would connect for two, and then it was so. It’s a bizarre experience. Try it sometime.

· After all the discussion about how poorly Quickley’s played of late, he finished with 18 points, six boards, and four assists in 21minutes. He shot 7-10 from the field, 4-7 from deep.

· Rookie Cam Thomas is a hooper. He ended with 21 points in 30 minutes. The shooting wasn’t great—9-of-21 from the field—but he came up big when the Nets needed him.

That’s all from the Binghamton contingent. Enjoy your break from this abuse, Knicks fans. See you on the other side of the All-Star fiesta.