Couldn’t Stop Kyrie. Brooklyn 122 NY 115

The Knicks withstood an accurate 3-point shelling from the Nets who shot 55% from 3 on 22-40 shooting — and came from 19 down to pull within 3 points with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter — but couldn’t stop Kyrie Irving, who hit consecutive unconscious 3-pointers from way outside and threw in a spectacular drive to beat NY, 122-115. On an early Saturday evening in Brooklyn.

“Offensively we were fine but we got in the hole early and we didn’t cover the line as well as we should have,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “There were a lot of moving parts to this game because we didn’t know exactly who was in and out; we knew the personnel would change who was on the floor with different groupings. The way that Curry has been playing and of course Irving puts so much pressure on you, we thought that the 3 would be something that we would have to be aware of, and we got hurt by it.”

1. Nets Bombarded NY with Accurate 3-Pt Shelling

The Nets were without Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons but have an underrated, no-name supporting cast with length who play D and hit the 3. They are well coached by Jacques Vaughn. And they came out firing.

Yuta Watanabe — the 6’8 Japanese forward who is shooting 49.5 % from 3 on the season — was first off the Nets bench and killed the Knicks with three 3’s in the 2nd quarter — one with Obi Toppin his man, no where near him — as the Nets came out spreading the floor on the break with Kyrie looking to drive and Obi helping to guard the lane.

With Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Cam Thomas, Edmond Sumner, and Royce O’Neale adding to the attack, Brooklyn ran out to a 58-40 lead before the Knicks closed to 62-49 at the half.

Brooklyn expanded their lead to 19 points early in the 3rd quarter before NY began their comeback for real — pulling to within 8 to start the 4th quarter.

The Nets shot lights-out from 3 across the board: Royce O’Neale was 4-7; Seth Curry was 2-3; Joe Harris was 4-7; Watanabee was 3-3; Edmond Sumner was 2-2; Cam Thomas was 1-1, and Kyrie Irving finished 5-12 from 3.

As a matter of comparison:

  • In their prior game against Detroit (a loss), Brooklyn only shot 34% from 3 — 13-38. Kyrie was 6-12 from 3 in that game for 40 pts.
  • In this game the Nets shot 55% from 3 — 22-40. Kyrie was 5-12 from 3 for 36 pts.
  • In this game the Knicks shot 35.7% from 3 — 10-28.

2. Knicks Comeback

But even with all that, the Knicks came back — and pulled to within 3 with 3 minutes left in the 4th when Quentin Grimes skied for an offensive rebound and put back. Brooklyn 108 NY 105.

The Knicks began guarding the 3 better in the 3rd, and got offense from RJ Barrett who had a strong, efficient game with 24 pts on 9-16 shooting (3-5 from 3; 3-4 in free throws), Immanuel Quickley (16 pts on 6-11 shooting, 4-7 from 3), QGrimes (10 pts on 4-11 shooting), Julius Randle (19 pts, 10 rebounds, 7 assists), and Jalen Brunson (26 pts on 10-19 shooting).

3. The Battle Underneath

Isaiah Hartenstein (4-5 for 8 pts) and Jericho Sims (6 pts on 3-3 shooting and 10 rebounds) battled Nic Claxton underneath. Claxton (13 pts, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 6 assists) leads the NBA in shot blocks and field goal percentage.

Obi Toppin hit a drive on a fast break and added 2 free throws for 4 pts in 10 minutes.

4. Brunson vs Irving Down the Stretch

Jalen Brunson led the Knicks down the stretch — going tete-a-tete with Irving.

Irving missed a number of shots near the end before hitting the last 3. Irving missed a 3-pointer with 4:44 left and NY down 8, and missed a 3 with 3:54 left and NY down 8.

Brunson’s floater with 2 minutes left pulled NY to within 111-107. Irving responded by missing a jumper on the other end. NY had a chance to pull within 1 with 1:45 left when Quentin Grimes got the ball on the left side, and stepped back for an open 3 with the 24-second clock running down — but missed.

At the other end Irving hit the first of his two unconscious 3’s for the beginning of the end.

The Boxscore


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