The Knicks can claim the title for least dysfunctional team in New York. Not the best.
If Wednesday night were any indication, they’re still below the Nets, who’ve been rejuvenated since Steve Nash’s removal and Kyrie Irving’s suspension.
Of course, the big reason for the gap remains Kevin Durant, the greatest talent to ever play in the NBA for NYC (Dr. J would be No. 1 but only played in the ABA for the New York Nets, and that was technically on Long Island). The Knicks were no match in Barclays Center on Wednesday night, conceding to outer borough very early in the 112-85 wire-to-wire defeat.
The Knicks (5-6) folded by halftime, when the deficit reached 25 points. It was never close in the second half. Tom Thibodeau and his players all harped on their effort, or lack thereof, which is a common excuse after a blowout defeat.
“They played harder than us,” Jalen Brunson said. “We just didn’t respond fast enough. We made a run in the third, but it wasn’t strong enough and we didn’t play hard enough.
“It’s not OK. It’s something that we need to quickly recover from.”
Thibodeau said the Knicks resorted to hero ball after falling into a deficit.
“It snowballed on us. Probably over dribbling,” Thibodeau said. “Because of the switching you have to cut more. So you have to slip, you have to put pressure on the rim. You can’t stand around. You’ve got to move the ball, you’ve got to move your bodies. So there’s no stats for that. That’s just giving yourself up for the team.”
Julius Randle’s stat line looked well enough (24 points, 11 rebounds) but he was lax on defense and outplayed by Durant, who notched his first triple-double of the season with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Nets have now won eight straight against the Knicks, a stretch that started with Durant’s first game against the rival in a Brooklyn uniform. Durant’s career record against the Knicks is 21-3.
On second thought, we can’t call it a rivalry. Durant has fun punishing the Knicks and taunted some fans before the game.
“So long as I’ve got a Nets jersey on, if I see a Knicks fan, I’m always going to give them a thumbs down or give them some sh— about being a Knicks fan,” Durant said.
RJ Barrett, on the other hand, is now 1-9 against the Nets in his career.
“It’s annoying but what can you do about it?” Barrett said. “Every time you come to the court, know that it’s a big game. We’ll be ready next time.”
Despite their encouraging play in the last week or so, the aura of uneasiness and potential combustion hovers over the Nets (5-7). Almost all of that is related to Irving.
On Wednesday night, for instance, as the Nets were introducing Jacque Vaughn as their permanent head coach, a group of Black Hebrew Israelites were outside Barclays Center protesting Irving’s suspension while distributing anti-Semitic pamphlets.
Irving wasn’t around Wednesday and GM Sean Marks acknowledged he hasn’t spoken directly to his point guard about the suspension.
The Knicks don’t have that type of drama but they can’t be confused for title contenders. Wednesday night was a reminder.
Brooklyn’s knockdown blow connected in the first quarter, when the Knicks allowed 38 points and trailed by 16. It was a steady ride to a blowout from there. .
New York’s starters were dominated again, with Randle, Brunson and Barrett all finishing with +/- of -22 or worse. The Knicks shot just 32 percent and their 85 points represented a season-low.
“They got off to a fast start,” Randle said, “we just never recovered.”