Nets’ losing upper-hand over Knicks demonstrates telling shift

The Nets had never lost to the Knicks with either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in the lineup, having turned this cross-river rivalry one-sided. 

It’s no coincidence they lost the upper hand as soon as they lost the stars. 

The Nets saw their winning streak snapped in resounding fashion on Monday night, 124-106 before a sellout crowd of 19,812 at the Garden, incapable of getting a basket late. Basically bereft of Durant and Irving’s endgame specialty. 

The Nets’ nine-game winning streak against their rivals had been their longest active run against any team, and the Knicks’ worst active skid versus any foe. Brooklyn hadn’t lost to the Knicks since Jan. 26, 2020. 

Games like Monday drive home just how much the two All-Stars will be missed. 

“Yeah, that was the overall challenge is to be able to put the ball in the basket. It’s something we’re gonna continue to work on and stress as a group,” Jacque Vaughn said. “Not enough 3s that we were able to shoot; the pace was too slow for us. We have to have quicker actions early in the shot clock without the defense being set. Too many times they were able to get their defense set.” 

Jacque Vaughn reacts during the Nets' loss to the Knicks on Feb. 14.
Jacque Vaughn reacts during the Nets’ loss to the Knicks on Feb. 14.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 28 points on 8 of 21 shooting, but no other Net mustered more than 14. 

The Nets were held to .449 shooting overall, and just 12 of 29 from deep, far off their pregame target of 50 attempts. 

“It puts a lot of pressure on Spencer as it did tonight. First half he really carried us a little bit,” Vaughn said. “The big piece of it is are we gonna be able to break guys down and create drive and kick opportunities to shoot 3s. 

“Some of that pressure is on Spencer to get to the rim, also drive-and-kick. We’re gonna hopefully be able to do that with Mikal [Bridges]. Cam [Thomas] can do it at times, creating for others. So that piece of it, we’ll figure out.” 

The Nets got stagnant and the offense bogged down. Without shot-creators like Durant and Irving, the ball is going to have to move side-to-side, and the Nets are going to have to create looks for each other. 

Kevin Durant
The Nets traded Kevin Durant to the Suns.
Getty Images

Kyrie Irving reacts during the Mavericks' loss to the Timberwolves on Feb. 13.
Kyrie Irving reacts during the Mavericks’ loss to the Timberwolves on Feb. 13.

“You hit it on the head,” Dorian Finney-Smith said. 

“We got too stagnant,” Cam Johnson said. 

Guard Seth Curry missed his fifth straight game with a left adductor strain. But he could make his return Wednesday against the Miami Heat in the Nets’ last game before the All-Star break. 

“There is a chance,” Vaughn said. “He’ll do a little bit more court work [Tuesday] and then see if there’s some potential for Wednesday. So definitely some steps ahead and potential for Wednesday.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *