That turned out to be a wise decision because it was anything but must-see TV.
Julius Randle had 33 points and eight rebounds, and New York forced Brooklyn into the worst shooting performance in the NBA this season in a 94-82 victory.
Brooklyn finished 21 of 78 (26.9%) from the field. Chicago had the previous worst shooting game this season when it hit 29.9% against Toronto exactly two months earlier.
“They just outplayed us. Plain and simple,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You could sit there and write and talk about missed shots — we did miss lots of open shots — but give them the credit. They simply were the better team tonight.”
Marcus Morris added 22 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Elfrid Payton scored 13 points as New York won for the first time in three meetings with Brooklyn this season.
“We were just sharp. To hold that team to 82 points, 14 points in the paint, is just really, really sharp,” Randle said. “We grinded the whole way, played a complete basketball game and we got the win.”
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 25 points but was only 5 for 15 for the Nets, who were held to their lowest point total of the season.
“For us, the target was to keep them under 100. We also shot 27 percent,” Dinwiddie said. “Maybe too much eggnog?”
The game even lacked the usual energy of a matchup between the city rivals, when there’s almost always noise because both teams have plenty of fans in the building. This time, there were simply too many long spells when there was nothing to cheer from the sellout crowd of 17,732.
The Nets hadn’t played since Saturday and couldn’t shake off their holiday rust. Randle scored 12 points in the first quarter, when his five baskets were as many as the Nets. Brooklyn shot 21% for the period and the Knicks led 24-15.
That wasn’t the Nets’ only bad quarter. After they had cut it to 46-41 at halftime, they came out for the third and took more than eight minutes to make a basket. That allowed the Knicks to break it open with an 18-4 burst that extended an eight-point lead to 71-49 on Payton’s layup.
“It is a tough task when you shoot like 25 percent,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said. “That makes playing defense much harder and running up and down the court harder.”
Payton said he could sense the frustration in the Nets’ body language during that third quarter, when the Knicks outscored them 33-20.
“You could feel it, you could see it,” he said. “And credit to us that we made some plays to kind of like seal the game.”
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot finally gave the Nets their first basket with a 3-pointer with 3:52 to play in the period, and he hit another later in the quarter, finishing with half of Brooklyn’s baskets in the period as it went 4 for 12.
Knicks: F Morris and C Taj Gibson were back in the starting lineup after missing the loss to Washington on Monday. Morris had a sore left Achilles tendon and Gibson was ill. G Dennis Smith Jr. was out with a strained left oblique. … Mitchell Robinson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Nets: Atkinson reported no change for Kyrie Irving, who missed his 19th straight game with a right shoulder injury. He said the All-Star point guard continues to work out on the court but they haven’t gotten to the point where they can add contact, which would be the next step. He added that the Nets aren’t at the point where they’re thinking Irving will need surgery on the shoulder. … Among the ugly nights for the Nets: Taurean Prince was 1 for 10, Garrett Temple 2 for 10 and Joe Harris 3 for 12.
Starting Nets guard Caris LeVert is moving closer to returning from right thumb surgery in November. Atkinson said LeVert just needs a little more work involving contact before he is ready to rejoin the lineup. He has missed the last 21 games. “He did a lot of contact today,” Atkinson said. “Probably need a couple more of those sessions until he and our medical team, performance team feels like he’s ready to go, but obviously getting much closer.”
STILL ON TOP
The Knicks’ victory allowed them to keep a slim lead in the all-time series. The Nets would have evened it at 99 wins apiece with a victory. They had won the last four meetings.
Knicks: Visit Washington on Saturday.
Nets: Visit Houston on Saturday.
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