Nets flexing muscles while Knicks in a nose-dive
When they last met on Dec. 8, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were in the opening stages of their current trajectories.
On that night, Spencer Dinwiddie constantly reached the lane and scored 25 points in Brooklyn's 112-104 win in Madison Square Garden. It was the second win in a seven-game winning streak that turned around Brooklyn's season. Meanwhile, it was a week into New York's current skid.
Heading into the final game of the season series, the Nets have a seven-game home winning streak while the visiting Knicks are on a seven-game skid and firmly entrenched as one of the league's worst teams.
"When we're at home we want to take care of home court," Nets guard D'Angelo Russell said.
"On the road, we know what we gotta do to grind it out and give ourselves a chance to win, so just going on the road and being at home, those are our main mentalities."
The Nets lead the season series 2-1 after losing all four games to the Knicks last season.
Brooklyn is 18-5 in its past 23 games. The run, which started with a one-point overtime home win over Toronto on Dec. 7, is the Nets' best 23-game stretch since 2005-06.
Brooklyn (26-23) is within two wins of last season's total.
Fourteen of their wins in this 18-5 stretch has come by single digits.
"I would say the confidence is pretty high," Brooklyn wing Joe Harris said.
"We've been in these tight-game scenarios most of the season, and we obviously went through a spell where we lost a lot of them, and now we're coming out on the better side of it. But we've learned through those experiences and we're better for it."
Brooklyn's latest win was a 114-110 home victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, when Russell and Dinwiddie were productive again.
Russell finished with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in 33 minutes. It was his fifth double-double and his fifth game with at least 20 points and 10 assists.
Russell is averaging 24.1 points in his last 11 games.
Dinwiddie scored 29 points against Orlando. He has 10 games with at least 25 points as a reserve to tie the franchise record set by Bubbles Hawkins in 1976-77.
The Knicks' seven-game skid is one shy of their season high set Dec. 16-Jan. 1. New York also is 2-20 in its last 22 games since getting an overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 1.
New York is on its 12th losing streak of at least seven games since the start of the 2013-14 season. The latest loss was Wednesday's 114-110 home defeat to the Houston Rockets when James Harden scored 61 points, tying Kobe Bryant's 2009 record for most points scored by a visitor at the current Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks had chances to win but wound up improving their lottery chances, even if coach David Fizdale insisted that is not their intention.
"I don't think anybody should just be trying to do that," Fizdale said. "But you always have to look at the circumstances. And that's what we're doing right now. Our circumstance is we have the youngest team in the NBA."
On Wednesday, rookie Allonzo Trier scored a career-high 31 points and added 10 rebounds to become New York's first rookie to get at least 30 points and 10 rebounds since Patrick Ewing in 1985-86.
Trier's performance occurred on a night when Enes Kanter did not play, registering the first DNP-coaches decision of his career. The 26-year-old center, who said the coaching staff had told him he would start Wednesday, voiced his frustration after the loss.
"My job right now is just cheer for my teammates and try to be a good teammate," Kanter said. "Like I said, what they're doing to me is pretty messed up. I deserve way better."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 24, 2019