There’s a lot of bad blood between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. Both being two of the worst teams in the NBA didn’t really help make things any less chippier when the two sinkings ships collided. The end result? A 113-83 win for the Knicks, Andrea Bargnani ejected after making fun of Kevin Garnett and a lot of smiles on the faces of people like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, snapping a nine-game losing streak.
Teams coming off such terrible streaks usually don’t win in such fashion. In fact, the Knicks’ 30 point win is tied for 3rd-largest in NBA history for a team snapping a losing streak of 9 or more games. The Warriors had one against the Clippers four years ago by the same margin; the Cavs beat the Timberwolves by 33 over a decade ago; and the Suns beat the Knicks in the 1976-77 season by the same 33 point margin.
Things were quite close through the first two quarters, but then came the usual for the Nets: That third quarter disease, losing it by 18 points. They’re without Paul Pierce and Deron Williams, which works as some sort of excuse, but when you have the highest payroll in the NBA and your players trash talk all through the offseason about expectations and hype, there’s no one really concerned about the reasons for things being this bad, as they fall to 5-14, losing two consecutive home games by more than 20 points, a first for the franchise.
Carmelo Anthony, who spoke this week about being a laughingstock which caused a spiral of rumors about his decision to leave the Knicks already being made, had one of his more efficient games this season. He only needed to play 30 minutes, scoring 19 points, adding 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Iman Shumpert, another player with trade rumors buzzing above his head, scored 17 points against the non-existent Nets defense, while Amar’e Stoudemire added 11 of the bench, including one huge block on Joe Johnson.
Maybe the player who earned the biggest amount of respect from this game was Andrea Bargnani, who has been playing quite well recently (18.2 points over the last five games). Not just for another efficient display on offense, scoring 16 points before his ejection, but also for making Kevin Garnett, not the most popular player among Knicks fans, look old, slow, and on his way to retirement.
It’s funny to see someone trash-talking Kevin Garnett, and arrogant and bullying figure since the moment he became a Boston Celtics player, be on the receiving end of some trash talk that results in an ejection. Joey Crawford was never a good referee, and he proved it once again after giving Bargnani a second technical foul for saying a couple of words after hitting a shot over Garnett. The first was given to both of them during a tangle up that led to a mini-skirmish in the fourth quarter.
Where do the Knicks go from here? As long as they play awful defense, one win over another team in trouble won’t make much of a difference. For the Nets, injuries or not, the attempts to take shortcuts on their way to the title, just like their head coach decided he doesn’t need any time being an assistant to lead an ambitious group of players, are hitting a brick wall time and time again, with no happy ending in sight.