Knicks-Nets clash comes with big buildup

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale talks to his team when a time out is called in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 17, 2018. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale talks to his team when a time out is called in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 17, 2018. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- These days, the rivalry between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets can be defined by rebuilding projects and getting their respective rosters on the road to playoff contention.

Heading into the season, neither club is projected as a playoff team. Instead, they're hoping to continue rebuilding projects with an eye toward future success.


With getting wins among the focus of the rebuilding projects, the intracity rivals get together for the first time this season Friday when the Knicks visit the Nets.

The Knicks last made the playoffs in 2013, when they won 54 games. They have not won more than 37 since and are projected to be around the 29-win team they were last season.

However, these Knicks are playing without Kristaps Porzingis. He is still recovering from a torn ACL injury and will be watching the action while wearing a nice suit on the bench.


The Nets last made the playoffs in 2015 and are coming off their fourth straight losing season. This year they finally own their first-round pick after sending four of them to Boston in 2013 for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and are hoping to build on some of the improvement made in winning 28 games last season.

Both teams are coming off differing results in their respective season openers Wednesday.

New York kicked off the season with a 126-107 rout of the Atlanta Hawks in coach David Fizdale's debut. The Knicks produced a team-record 49-point second quarter on a night when they began by missing nine straight shots and seemed sparked by a fan making a shot from halfcourt during a timeout.

Tim Hardaway Jr., who is expected to get more touches while Porzingis recovers, led the Knicks with 16 of his 31 in the second period.

"He played great tonight," Fizdale said. "I've asked him to make a few adjustments offensively, he's done that. Defensively he's playing at an extremely high level but I challenged him to do more and be more."


Four others reached at least 15 points as Enes Kanter totaled 16 with 11 rebounds, while undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier finished with 15.

Rookie Kevin Knox scored 10 in a reserve role after Fizdale decided to keep him on the bench in the days leading up to the season opener.

Meanwhile, the Nets began the season by taking a 103-100 loss at Detroit. The Nets as they often did last season fell behind by double digits before coming back but on their last two possessions, Caris LeVert committed a turnover and Joe Harris missed a contested 3-pointer that would have forced overtime.

"We fought back played well, etc, etc, etc, sort of the story of last season," Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie of a team which was 12-13 in games decided by five points or fewer last season. "We didn't get it done. We've got to figure it out and take the next step and finally get it done."

Despite the lack of late-game execution, the Nets received some good performances as LeVert matched a career high with 27 points and Dinwiddie added 23.

"We had opportunities," coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We had open shots that didn't go down. We just didn't close it out. I thought we did a lot of positive things today."


However, they're hoping for more from D'Angelo Russell, who did not play the final 18 minutes and finished with eight points in 24:58.

The Nets also played their season opener short-handed without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (left adductor), DeMarre Carroll (right ankle surgery), Allen Crabbe (left ankle sprain) and Shabazz Napier (strained right hamstring).

Without those players, the Nets started veteran Jared Dudley at power forward and kept Ed Davis as the backup center behind Jarrett Allen. Davis had eight points and seven rebounds but like the rest of the Nets struggled to contain Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, who eased their way to a combined 50 points.

Carroll is out indefinitely, Crabbe is probable and it seems Hollis-Jefferson could return Friday.

Brooklyn has won five of six home openers since moving from New Jersey in 2012. This time, the Nets will try to beat an opponent who made things difficult last season.

The Knicks swept the season series by an average of 14.8 points, getting all four wins before Porzingis was lost for the season. New York also has won eight of the last 12 meetings.


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