Recap: Knicks 85, Nets 88

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The Knicks lose a disappointing and crucial game to the Brooklyn Nets 88-85. Their lead in the Atlantic division has shrunk to just one game.

1st Quarter:

The Knicks trailed 26-24 at the end of a very active first quarter.  There was very little defense early on as the two teams traded baskets.  The Knicks put up a ridiculous nine three pointers in the first quarter, but were made the same number of threes as Joe Johnson himself.  Johnson was the primary scorer for the Nets in the first quarter, scoring 11 points on his own before getting his second foul. Carmelo Anthony controlled the offense for New York, scoring 8 points and dishing out 3 assists.  His passing was particularly impressive, highlighted by his pass in transition to Chris Copeland for a driving dunk and two passes to Amar’e Stoudemire that led to fouls.  A key sequence came when Tyson Chandler scored a putback dunk to tie the game, but was called for a technical foul for yelling at Reggie Evans. After Deron Williams hit the technical free throw, Joe Johnson hit a three pointer to put the Nets up 4. Overall, the scoring seemed to slow down as the quarter went on, and the Nets held their lead into the second.

2nd Quarter:

The offensive rhythm that both teams had in the first quarter completely died in the second quarter. The Knicks only scored 3 points in the first 4 minutes in the second quarter. Luckily for the Knicks, the Nets did little at the start of the quarter either. The Nets had something on their side that the Knicks did not: offensive rebounding.  With Stoudemire as the lone big, the Knicks failed to contain the offensive rebounding of the Nets, led by Kris Humphries who had a streak of seven straight points to give the Nets a 7 point lead.  The Nets led 27-16 in rebounding at halftime. The inability to make shots led to offensive stagnation as the Knicks began to rely on Carmelo Anthony isolations. Melo had 18 points at half, but only J.R. Smith (2-9) and Chris Copeland (2-6) made more than one shot.  The Nets,  led by their rebounding and more balanced scoring (Johnson had 13, Lopez had 11, and Humphries had nine), held a 47-41 halftime lead.

3rd Quarter:

The Nets were on the verge of pulling away, extending the lead to 7 a few times. The Knicks called a timeout after the second of two consecutive Deron Williams three pointers and the game seemed to turn from there. The last five minutes of the third quarter was characterized by excellent Knicks defense, especially Jason Kidd, who had 6 steals in the game.  J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire began to pick up the offense and a 10-0 run gave the Knicks their first lead in a while, 63-60. Stoudemire had very productive minutes in the quarter, showing effort on his defense and rebounding, and displaying some athleticism on a transition dunk that unfortunately got called back for traveling.  After the Nets briefly tied the game, Carmelo Anthony made a three pointer and assisted Amar’e Stoudemire on a basket to give the Knicks a 68-65 lead heading in the pivotal 4th quarter.

4th Quarter:

With Pablo Prigioni seemingly ailing, the Knicks opened the fourth quarter with a no point guard lineup. The early results were not positive as the Nets jumped out to a 70-68 lead. Jason Kidd reentered the game with 8 minutes left, but unfortunately for the Knicks, so did Joe Johnson.  With the game tied, Johnson hit two huge three pointers (with a J.R. Smith packaged sandwiched in) and a 16 fott jumper to give the Nets a 6 point lead. The Knicks tried to play catch up the rest of the quarter, but could not get Carmelo Anthony going. Anthony’s only points of the quarter were on two free throws that gave the Knicks a 84-83 lead with less than a minute left.  The Nets, however, were more clutch on this day. Joe Johnson, the Nets leading scorer with 25 huge points, hit a fading baseline jumper with 22.3 seconds to give the Nets a one point lead. On the ensuing possession, Carmelo Anthony had a similar shot and missed the rim completely. After Deron Williams hit two free throws, the Nets fouled Jason Kidd. Kidd, normally reliable from the line, missed one of the two free throws to put the Knicks in a difficult situation. After Deron Williams surprisingly missed his first free throw in more than 50 attempts, the Knicks had a shot to tie it at the buzzer, but J.R. Smith’s heave failed to go in. The Knicks lost 88-85.

Notes

- This game was particularly important in the standings, as it was the last of four games between the Nets and the Knicks and could be crucial to end of season tiebreakers. The Nets win tied the season series.

- The victory also put the Nets just one game behind the Knicks in the Atlantic Division. The Indiana Pacers, who won earlier today, are now just a half game back of the Knicks for the 2nd seed in the East.

- It is hard to believe that the Knicks could lose a game where they only had 5 turnovers. The turnover discrepancy is what kept New York in the game, but the Nets had big advantages in three point shooting in rebounding.  It is safe to say that the Knicks are sorely missing Camby and Wallace as they lack a rebounder off the bench.

- Another player the Knicks sorely miss is Raymond Felton, who may be proving to be the third most important player on the team. Without Felton, the Knicks lack any offensive flow and Carmelo Anthony is struggling to get open looks. It took Melo 29 shots to get his 29 points. J.R. Smith also needed 19 shots for his 16 points.

- More on the Knicks struggles: They are 2-4 in their last six with losses to Brooklyn, Indiana, Chicago, and Boston and wins against New Orleans and Detroit.

- A huge problem for the Knicks this game was free throw shooting. 11-17 is unacceptable, especially in a struggle like this one. After going 11-12 from the line vs. Detroit, Amar’e Stoudemire went 3-6 today.

- One of the most encouraging aspects of this game is how often Anthony has been passing it to Stoudemire. The two don’t seem to be having that many issues with spacing as a pair. Stoudemire struggled in the first half, but was an integral part of the run in the third quarter.

- Is it concerning that Carmelo Anthony is 0-4 in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime? Not really, but it is a stat worth mentioning.

- Lastly, it is important to point out that today was the home re-debut of Iman Shumpert. Shumpert struggled with his shot (1-6) in 20 minutes, but played good defense. The Knicks needed him on Johnson in the fourth, but it is what it is.