By John Schmeelk
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My first game at Barclays Center on Tuesday night did not disappoint.
The crowd was into the game, which I thought was filled with more Knicks fans than Nets fans. Both teams, especially the Nets, played extremely hard. In the end, thanks mostly to an unbelievable offensive performance by Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks stole one in Brooklyn that they had no business winning.
Even without Brook Lopez, the Nets played much more sound basketball than the Knicks did on Tuesday night. They got the ball to the rim and moved the ball extremely well with a number of backdoor passes that caught the Knicks completely flat-footed. The Nets put up 48 points in the paint to the Knicks 20, and were the constant aggressors. The Knicks’ defense was an absolute disaster, switching needlessly every time a Net seemed to move more than five feet. They might as well have been playing zone. Hot shooting from Anthony was the only reason that the Knicks were even in the game.
To the Knicks’ credit, their defensive effort jumped substantially in the fourth quarter, holding the Nets to just 36 percent shooting and 18 points. But on the Nets’ final possession they had two wide open looks at a three, which is unacceptable considering the Knicks had a three-point lead. Why Anthony sagged when Joe Johnson made a move towards the basket I will never understand. A strong fourth quarter and some strong individual performances covered up an otherwise lackluster game that the Knicks or their fans should not be particularly proud of.
As for some individual performances, Raymond Felton had another rough shooting game against Deron Williams, going 3-for-12 (0-for-4 in the 4th) with seven turnovers, but he did come up with three big assists late. He seems to press a bit when he worries too much about playing the point guard across from him.
Mike Woodson also ran a number of very creative plays in the fourth quarter, including a great double handoff which got Anthony a wide open three. Right now, at least offensively, Anthony is playing like an MVP, and his 15 points in the fourth quarter was the difference. He is either taking wide open threes or getting shots at the rim, a good formula for efficient offense. I see him regressing a bit defensively, but that’s something for another post.
Finally, are there enough good things to say about Jason Kidd? He has turned into a dead-red three-point shooter and still makes all the little plays that help a team win. He always moves the ball quickly and to the right person, and gets after it on the boards. He was phenomenal, scoring 18 points with six assists and six rebounds. Woodson better start watching his minutes, though. At this rate he might not be upright by the playoffs.
Last night the Knicks stole one in Brooklyn. The Nets, for the most part, outplayed the Knicks. Their defense really gives the Knicks some problems. Williams and Brooklyn’s pick-and-roll defense has Felton confounded. The Nets should have won the game, and if Lopez was healthy they probably would have. But the Knicks do what good teams do: They played their best ball late, made the plays when they had to and relied on their superstar to bring them home. It wasn’t pretty, but it was still a good win for the Knicks. They are racking those up quickly.
– I was a big fan of Barclays Center. It has a fieldhouse feel to it, and the coloring of the floor and the rest of the arena just works. There is much less nonsense on the court during timeouts than you have at Knicks games, which is welcome. It actually seems to be more about the basketball. There is also a Brooklyn feel to the people who work there. Overall, I’m a big fan of the place.
– Everything wasn’t great, though. They play too much music during Nets possessions. It is distracting. Then you have the Brooklyn PA announcer. He isn’t quite as annoying as the guy in Detroit, but he is close. He is a distraction and cringe-inducing. They also showed him on the big screen and he seems to have a ponytail that goes down to his waist. He looks oddly like a guy that I used to play basketball with at Marine Park in Brooklyn 10 years ago.
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Is this the start of an epic rivalry or what? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…