New York’s two NBA teams went head-to-head on Wednesday night in a contest that proved to be an extremely memorable one — although one the Knicks might want to forget about it. After falling behind by 28 points in the first half in the Knicks’ building, the Nets stormed all the way back in the second half and ultimately claimed a 111-106 victory. The win was the second straight for the Nets since they traded James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.
With the win, the Nets matched the largest deficit overcome for a win in franchise history. Given the fact that the Nets were without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, the comeback win was an impressive one. The game was a historic one for the Knicks, too, but not in a positive way. By blowing such a large lead, they became the first team to blow three separate 20-point leads in the same month in the last 25 seasons. Two of those blown leads have occurred in the past week alone.
Prior to February, the Knicks were 9-0 when leading by 20 or more. To say that this has been a rough month for them would be an understatement.
Cam Thomas led the way for the Nets with 21 points off of the bench, including 15 in the fourth quarter to help propel Brooklyn to the win. With several of their heavy-hitters sidelined, the Nets needed other players to step up, and Thomas did exactly that.
“Staying aggressive, that was the main key, just staying aggressive,” Thomas said of his approach after the game. “.. I had a few layups, I had a layup on (Immanuel) Quickley on the inbounds and I missed a floater, got the rebound back got a layup so that’s what really got me going then that’s when pick-and-rolls started coming, the mid-ranges with a big that’s practice shots so, great strategy.”
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Seth Curry also added 20 points and six assists in his second game in a Nets uniform. He connected on six of his nine 3-point attempts and demonstrated why the Nets were so excited about his addition. In all, the Nets had five players score in double figures. Performances like this one have to make the front office feel pretty good about how far this team can go when it’s fully healthy.
The Knicks, on the other hand, continue to slowly sink down the Eastern Conference standings. They’ve lost three straight games, and eight of their last ten overall. No lead seems safe with this team, as they now lead the league in blown 20-point leads on the season (tied with the Indiana Pacers) with three. They currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference — several games outside of the playoff picture, and with the trade deadline now passed, there’s no possibility to find help via a trade.
Knicks forward Julius Randle scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Nets, but his production didn’t lead to a victory for New York, which has been the case often this season. Afterward, Randle had no answer for the Knicks’ consistent struggles this season. “I wish I had an answer for you,” he said. “I feel like we should be better than where we are record-wise, obviously. But we’re not.”
After making the playoffs last year, the Knicks have taken a major step backward this season and there doesn’t seem to be a solution to their struggles on the horizon. Coach Tom Thibodeau clearly doesn’t seem to have any answers, and as such he should be squarely on the hot seat. It’s not all his fault though, as the roster is short on top-tier talent. Barring a complete turnaround over the last couple of months of the season, New York’s front office is going to have its hands full over the offseason.
The Nets are in a different position. They just have to hope that they can get healthy and on the same page before the playoffs start. If they can do that, they’ll have a legitimate chance to make a deep run. Overall, New York’s two teams appear to be heading in different directions, and that was evident on Wednesday night.