The rookie guard scored his first NBA points, and the Knicks beat the Brooklyn Nets 107-86 for their first victory of the season.
“It was great. We had a great game and I think the fans liked it,” Ntilikina said.
Kristaps Porzingis had 30 points and nine rebounds, and Ntilikina finished with nine points as the Knicks became the last team in the league to get a win this season.
They did it with a surprisingly strong defensive effort that shut down the NBA’s highest-scoring team, holding the Nets about 35 points below their average.
New York blew it open with a 25-6 run in the third quarter that turned a three-point lead into a 72-50 cushion and coasted from there after three straight losses that followed a winless preseason.
“It was important because obviously it was our first win, but I think the most important thing in all of these three losses, we stick together,” center Enes Kanter said. “We stick together in every practice, we practice really hard and then tonight it was all about defense and we did a great job.”
D’Angelo Russell returned from a one-game absence with 15 points for the Nets, who looked nothing like the team that beat Eastern Conference champion Cleveland two nights earlier.
They came in averaging 121.2 points and had reached 110 in each of their first five games, but shot just 40.5 percent from the field against their city rivals.
“They were the more energetic team,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They were the more physical team. They were denying us left and right. We couldn’t handle their pressure. We were lethargic and we paid for it.”
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek gave veteran Jarrett Jack his first start at point guard and he responded with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists. Ntilikina, who has been injured for much of the time since former president Phil Jackson made him the No. 8 overall draft pick, then picked up the backup minutes and played well.
“We’re not surprised because we see it every day in practice,” Hornacek said.
Ntilikina, who missed the previous two games with a sprained left ankle after a scoreless NBA debut, made a long jumper with 49 seconds left in the third quarter. The French guard hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth and also had five assists.
Russell got the first basket of the third quarter to cut New York’s lead to three, but the Knicks controlled the next seven minutes of play. Porzingis had a follow dunk and three-point play as he and Kanter combined for all the points in a 9-0 run. Soon after, a 12-2 spurt extended the lead to 72-50.
Nets: Brooklyn missed its chance to even the all-time series, which the Knicks lead 95-93. … Russell was the only Nets starter in double figures.
Knicks: Willy Hernangomez, an All-Rookie selection last season who had played just 15 minutes in the first three games — sitting out one entirely — got in during the first half and finished with four points. … It was the Knicks’ most lopsided victory since beating Phoenix 128-97 on March 9, 2016. Their largest win last season was 16 points.
The Knicks outrebounded the Nets 55-34, racking up a 31-6 edge in second-chance points. “They played harder than us. They killed us on second-chance points,” swingman Allen Crabbe said. “You’re just not giving yourself a chance.”
Joseph Tsai, the executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce company, has agreed to purchase a 49 percent stake of the Nets from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov , with the option to become controlling owner in four years, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on Friday. Prokhorov, who bought the team in 2010 and oversaw its move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, will eventually become the minority owner, retaining 20 percent of the franchise after Tsai takes control in 2021.
Nets: Host Denver on Sunday.
Knicks: Visit Cleveland on Sunday.
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