“Go New York, Go New York, Go!”
It should be “Oh New York, Oh New York, No!”
With the Big Game in town, both the Brooklyn Nets (20-25) and the New York Knicks (19-28) had marquee match-ups at home this past weekend. Unfortunately, it was a losing weekend for both teams; particularly for the Nets who fell to the two top teams in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder (38-11) and the Indiana Pacers (36-10).
On Friday night, in front of a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center, Kevin Durant and the Thunder trampled the Nets 120-95. Durant’s streak of scoring 30 or more points came to a halt, but it wasn’t because the Nets prevented him from reaching the 30-point mark. Coach Scott Brooks sat Durant for the remaining 1:15 left in the 3rd quarter and the whole 4th quarter -- Durant played 30 minutes and finished with 26 points off 10-12 shooting.
The Nets couldn’t get into the game, and the Thunder were able to build a lead in the opening quarter. The Thunder finished the quarter on a 13-0 run and led the Nets 30-16. In the 2nd quarter, the Thunder blew the game wide open -- almost midway through the quarter, the Thunder went on a 11-0 run to take a 45-24 lead.
At 5:07, Paul Pierce made a free throw to cut the lead to 20, then the Thunder responded with eight straight points. Durant hit a 19-foot jumper on the next possession, then Reggie Jackson followed with a basket and a foul (Jackson hit the free throw). Durant finished the run with a 3-pointer.
Later, Durant hit a turn around jumper and another 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give the Thunder a 61-30 lead. At halftime, the Thunder led 63-35. The Nets couldn’t make a run to get back into the game, and the Thunder went on to win comfortably.
Durant’s streak of games scoring 30 or more points ended at 12. This win increased the Thunder’s win-streak to 10 games. Despite the loss, the Nets recorded the best record in the NBA for the month of January (10-3).
Key Stats: Shaun Livingston led the Nets with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. Paul Pierce had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Deron Williams, Mason Plumlee, and Jason Terry had 14, 13, and 11 points off the bench respectively.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Serge Ibaka finished with 25 points and 9 rebounds, and shot a perfect 12-12 from the field. Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha both finished with 14 points. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones finished with 12 and 11 points off the bench respectively.
Key Notes: Andrei Kirilenko didn’t play due to a strained right calf injury. Andray Blatche left the game in the second half with a bruised left hip.
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Brooklyn traveled to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Saturday night. The Pacers defended home-court and narrowly escaped with a 97-96 win. Neither team was able to pull away from the other, but the Pacers were able to take the lead for good in the 4th quarter. Shaun Livingston tied the game at 76 with two free throws, then on the next possession, Roy Hibbert responded with a 3-point play with 10 minutes remaining in the game. After that basket, the Pacers never looked back.
Despite their great record, the Pacers are notorious for starting games sluggish. The Nets were able to take advantage of the Pacers sluggish start, and held a seven-point lead three times in the opening quarter. Paul George hit a three later in the quarter to give the Pacers their first lead 19-18, then the Nets reeled off six points in a row. The Pacers were able to end the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 25-24 lead.
In the 2nd quarter, there were six lead changes and five ties. Both teams couldn’t build a lead larger than four points. George’s lay up with six seconds to go in the quarter gave the Pacers a 46-45 lead at the half.
The Pacers opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 58-47 lead, then the Nets responded with a 19-9 run of their own to only be down 67-66. The next five points were scored by the Pacers, but an Alan Anderson 3-pointer and a Mason Plumlee free throw (hit one of two from the line) brought the Nets within two (72-70) to end the 3rd.
During the closing seconds of the game, Joe Johnson hit a three with 8 seconds remaining to cut the Pacers lead to one. David West was fouled on the next possession, and he hit two free throws. Paul Pierce missed a three afterwards, and West was able to grab the rebound and was fouled. West hit another free throw to give the Pacers a 97-93 lead. Deron Williams hit a three with 0.4 seconds remaining, then Luis Scola threw the ball off Pierce’s back to end the game.
Indiana improves to 22-2 at home, and they completed the sweep of the Nets. Brooklyn are currently on a 3-game losing streak, but they still hold the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference.
Key Stats: Shaun Livingston led the Nets with 24 points. Joe Johnson scored 16 points. Paul Pierce had 15 points, 6 steals, and 5 rebounds. Deron Williams had 13 points and 6 assists. Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Roy Hibbert and Paul George led the Pacers with 20 points. George also had 8 rebounds. David West had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Lance Stephenson had 14 points and 7 rebounds. George Hill finished with 10 points.
Key Notes: Andrei Kirilenko is still out with a strained right calf. Lance Stephenson, unhappy that he didn’t get picked for the All-Star game, was exchanging words with the Nets bench throughout the game.
Read more here.
The New York Knicks welcomed the Miami Heat (33-13) to Madison Square Garden on Saturday Night. The atmosphere was electric and the stars were out in full force for this match up between two conference rivals. The Knicks went into this game winning four of their last five against Miami, including a victory against Miami earlier this season.
Coming off of blowing an 18-point lead against the Thunder on Thursday, the Heat were looking to right the ship and they definitely did. The Heat defeated the Knicks 106-91, and now the season series is tied at one.
Miami played with fire and ended the first quarter on a 5-0 run. Lebron James hit a deep three with 44.8 seconds left to give the Heat a 29-22 lead. In the 2nd, the Heat gradually increased their lead. With three minutes gone in the quarter, Dwayne Wade banks in a fade away jumper and gets fouled -- he hit the free throw to give the Heat a 37-27 lead.
Around the half way point, Chandler’s put-back dunk off of a Felton miss cut the lead to ten, then the Heat responded with four straight points -- two from Wade and James. The Knicks were able to cut the lead to seven with baskets from Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler towards the end of the quarter. Miami held a 53-46 lead at the half.
The game was even and the difference was reflected in the 3-pointers made. Miami made seven 3-pointers, while New York only made five.
Within the first minute of the 3rd, the Knicks cut the lead to two -- Carmelo Anthony hit a pull-up jumper, then found J.R. Smith open for a three. Miami then responded with six straight points, all in the paint, to increase Miami’s advantage to eight.
The Heat pushed the lead back to 13 midway through the quarter with a Wade lay up. New York responded with a 14-5 run which was capped off by an Anthony 3-pointer, off the glass, before the shot clock ran out -- Knicks were down 73-69. The Knicks went into the 4th quarter down 77-71.
In the 4th quarter, the Heat turned up the defense and the Knicks couldn’t get back into the game. James found Norris Cole open for a baseline jumper to give the Heat a 92-81 lead halfway through the quarter. Then James scored the next six points with a J.R. Smith free throw sprinkled in-between -- the Heat led 98-82 with 3:22 remaining.
It was a very disappointing loss for the Knicks, but they have a chance to bounce back on Monday against a woeful Milwaukee Bucks team. This loss snaps the Knicks 4-game winning streak, and the Knicks finish their homestand with a 4-4 record. The Knicks are currently on the outside-looking-in, trailing the Charlotte Bobcats by one game for the final playoff spot.
Key Stats: Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, but he also had 7 turnovers. J.R. Smith scored 20 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points off the bench. Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds and scored 8 points.
Lebron James led the Heat with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 steals. Dwayne Wade scored 22 points, but had 5 turnovers. Shane Battier scored 16 points. Mario Chalmers scored 11 points. Chris Andersen had 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
Key Notes: Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin returned to action -- Stoudemire missed seven games due to a sprained left ankle. Iman Shumpert missed his second game in a row with a bruised right shoulder.
Read more here.