The Knicks extended their win streak to three tonight against their non-rivals—the Nets. They need the momentum as they head into a difficult stretch. 

Your New York Knicks (16-11) wrapped up their mini five-game road trip with a 121-102 victory over the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets (13-14). Tonight’s victory marks the Knicks’ third straight over the Nets; the average margin of victory was 21 points over that span, per Land of Basketball. More importantly, they backed up Isaiah Hartenstein’s recent comments.

Hart took a shot at Nets fans, saying: “most of the time we go to Barclays, it’s mostly Knicks fans so I don’t know if it’s really a rivalry at this point.” With Robinson on the shelf and Taj Gibson working his way back into game shape, more pressure was on I-Hart this evening, as the center depth was razor-thin. He delivered with ten boards, eating up center minutes with Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson injured.

It was refreshing to see the ‘Bockers win comfortably this evening, as they need the momentum of this three-game winning streak as they head into a surprising gauntlet against the Bucks (twice), Magic, Pacers, and Thunder.

Julius Randle led the charge with another solid performance—26 points and six rebounds—his 12th consecutive game eclipsing the 20-point threshold, per ESPN Stats. His running mate, Jalen Brunson, was off this evening and only scored 16, but fellow Villanova Wildcat, Donte DiVincenzo went off with 23 points on five threes. DDV, who has been a bit inconsistent offensively this season, had one of his better performances and came in clutch, making up for a lack of production from Brunson and R.J. Barrett.

Early Christmas Gift for Thibs

The Knicks had one of their better defensive showings of the season, which made coach Tom Thibodeau happy. They held, the league’s 12th-ranked scoring offense (116.1 points per) and 2nd-ranked three-point shooting team by percentage to 102 points and 33.3% from behind the arc, per NBA Stats. With the Knicks ranked 8th in the NBA in points allowed per game, something had to give tonight. Fortunately, it went in favor of the orange and blue.

Mikal Bridges, one of the more underrated scorers in the Association, was stymied by the ‘Bockers defense, shooting only four of 21 from the field. The Cams, Johnson and Thomas, scored 20 each, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The intensity, intelligence, and consistency of the Knicks’ defense this evening, even without anchor Mitchell Robinson, was outstanding.

Glue Guys

Including the aforementioned I-Hart and Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart was awesome and had a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards. Hart’s ability to rebound at 6’4″ is remarkable and shows how badly he wants to make an impact on the game.

Sure, we love to see JB, Randle, IQ, and Barrett all go bonkers offensively each night, but there are going to be times when role guys are needed to step up. Tonight was one of those at the Barclays Center. Brunson should turn it around in the next few games against favorable matchups against the weak perimeter defenses of the Bucks and Pacers. Nonetheless, It was good to see a total team effort carry New York to their 16th win in their first 27 games.

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