Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis
One thing is clear after the New York Knicks' 100-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks are still the kings of the Big Apple, and it looks like that's not going to change anytime soon.
At the halfway point of the third quarter, it looked like the Knicks and Nets were going to go down to the wire.
But that's exactly when Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler decided it was time to take the game over.
The Nets just didn't have an answer, defensively speaking, for Anthony and Chandler, who combined for 47 of the Knicks' 100 points.
On the other hand, defense was not an issue for the Knicks, as they held the Nets to just 86 points. That is more than 10 points below their season average of 96.6 points per game.
With an impressive victory, the Knicks further solidified themselves as the top team in the Eastern Conference, at 19-6 overall. The Nets are headed in the other direction, losing eight of their last 10 games.
The Knicks are proving to be an extremely well-balanced and disciplined team, which is somewhat shocking considering J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are on the floor together.
Ahead are full grades for the Knicks and the Nets in their final matchup of 2012. Hopefully, 2013 has better things in store for the Nets.
Deron Williams, PG, Nets: C
If there was a player who failed to show up in the New York City showdown, it was certainly Deron Williams—in the first half of the game, that is.
He was a major non-factor in the first half, with an underwhelming two points and three turnovers. Sure, he accounted for seven assists, but two points is absolutely inexcusable for Williams in a single half of basketball.
Luckily, Williams came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, scoring seven points in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Williams ended the night with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. Unfortunately, that wasn't nearly enough to help the Nets win the battle of New York City.
His five turnovers proved costly as well, leading to eight transition points for the Knicks. Williams needs to protect the ball more than he did against the Knicks, that's for sure.
Raymond Felton, PG, Knicks: D-
The only truly positive thing Raymond Felton did against the Nets was not turn the ball over, even once.
Aside from that, though, Felton was a mess. While he scored eight points, he did so on 4-of-15 shooting for an abysmal 26.7 shooting percentage on the night.
Felton did facilitate the offense, accounting for four assists. But his defense on Deron Williams was less than stellar in the second half, allowing him to get into the paint at will.
There's no way around the fact that Felton had a rough night.
Luckily, the rest of his teammates stepped up their game, specifically J.R. Smith off the bench, because if they didn't, Felton's poor performance could've held the Knicks back more than it did.
Jason Kidd, SG, Knicks: C
Jason Kidd may be one of the most underrated signings of the 2012-13 season.
With that being said, his performance against the Nets was anything but impressive. He was an abysmal 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, with all of his shots coming from beyond the arc.
Luckily, Kidd made up for his 22.2 percent shooting night by grabbing eight rebounds and accounting for five assists and three steals.
Kidd is a court general, and that's exactly what he was Wednesday night for the Knicks in their blowout win over the Nets.
Joe Johnson, SG, Nets: D+
Say what you want about Joe Johnson's effort on defense and his agility on offense. But he can certainly still score—well, at least in the first half he could.
He would've ended the first half with 16 points if his 35-foot three-ball would've counted. But instead, he ended it with 13 points.
That would've been a good start, but that was basically the end of his production. He ended the night with just 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting. That's extremely underwhelming considering that he scored just four of those 17 points in the second half.
Johnson, with a three-inch and nearly 30-pound advantage over Jason Kidd, should've dominated more than he did.
Gerald Wallace, SF, Nets: C-
There's one thing that Gerald Wallace does better than most players in the NBA, and that is consistently control his opponent on the defensive side of the ball.
He did that against Carmelo Anthony about as well as he could, even though 'Melo ended the night with 31 points on 54.5 percent shooting. That goes to show just how good 'Melo is this season.
Wallace wasn't as prolific on offense as the Nets needed him to be, especially considering that Kris Humphries was an absolute non-factor.
He ended the night with six points and five rebounds, which just isn't going to cut it when the Nets go up against elite teams in the NBA.
Wallace also only got to the charity stripe once, and that's inexcusable for one of the NBA's most physical small forwards.
Ronnie Brewer, SF, Knicks: F
Well, Ronnie Brewer was an absolutely invisible against the Nets.
The only thing he did consistently was miss shots and be out of place on the defensive side of the ball.
He ended the night with four points on 20-percent shooting, and he grabbed just four rebounds. The Knicks made a smart choice when they benched him in favor of Chris Copeland, who ended with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Brewer didn't really have any significant, positive impact for the Knicks, and they still won handily. That goes to show just how deep the Knicks are.
Carmelo Anthony, PF, Knicks: B+
Welcome back, 'Melo.
In his first game since Dec. 12, Carmelo stepped right in and didn't skip a beat, ending the night with 31 points on 54.5-percent shooting, with three rebounds, two steals, one block and one assist.
He did most of his damage when he wasn't being guarded by Gerald Wallace, but that's the case for most NBA players.
The best part of 'Melo's performance was his fearless attack on the basket, while also only turning the ball over one time in the 36 minutes he was on the floor.
'Melo's efficiency is not only elevating his game to a whole new level, but it's also helping the Knicks become the most feared team in the East.
It's clear that 'Melo has set out to prove that the Knicks are the kings of the Big Apple, and he did just that with his ninth 30-point game of the 2012-13 season.
Kris Humphries, PF, Nets: F
I don't think Kris Humphries was even aware that the Nets were going up against the New York Knicks.
He logged 18 minutes, and in those 18 minutes, he accounted for an abysmal zero points and nine rebounds.
If there was one player to blame for the Nets' loss, it's certainly Humphries and the fact that he didn't do anything except rebound the ball.
To be fair, Humphries did miss three shots and commit two personal fouls, so I guess he didn't just rebound the ball.
Ugly performance by the former Mr. Kardashian. The Nets are going to continue to lose if Humphries doesn't step his game up sooner rather than later.
Humphries' nine rebounds saved this performance from being a solid "F-". Yes, an F- is possible when you put up a goose egg on offense, and your name isn't Ben Wallace.
Tyson Chandler, C, Knicks: A-
If you would've told me that Tyson Chandler was going to outplay Brook Lopez, I would've smacked you in the face and walked away.
I'm glad that didn't happen because I would've looked like a fool.
While both Chandler and Lopez ended the night with similar stats, Chandler was more efficient and a much more imposing force on the defensive side of the ball, rounding out his stat line with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
The most impressive part of Chandler's performance was his 63.6 percent shooting on the night.
Chandler was a real difference-maker on defense for the Knicks. When he wasn't blocking shots, he was altering the Nets' offensive game plan. His defensive play was a major reason why the Nets only scored 32 points in the paint.
If Chandler continues to play at such a high level, there's no telling how successful the Knicks can be.
Brook Lopez, C, Nets: B-
The main difference between Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler was efficiency.
With 16 points and 10 rebounds, Lopez and Chandler had nearly identical stat lines. The main difference, though, was Lopez's 44.4-percent shooting from the floor and the fact that he earned zero trips to the free-throw line.
Lopez also wasn't a big factor on the defensive side of the ball. For a seven-footer, Lopez is a very, very weak defender.
You can't blame only him, though, as his frontcourt partner, Kris Humphries, was an absolute no-show.
If the Nets are going to be a contender in the East, Lopez needs to be much more aggressive on both sides of the ball. He certainly wasn't Wednesday night, and that led to an impressive victory for the Knicks.
J.R Smith, SG, Knicks: A
Jekyll and Hyde is the best way to describe J.R. Smith and the kind of player he is.
Luckily, Smith was more like Dr. Jekyll than he was Mr. Hyde against the Nets. He was the spark off the bench the Knicks needed and he was efficient, ending the night with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists—not to mention his impressive 63.6-percent shooting from the field.
Yep, you read that right. Smith was efficient, and it's actually how he's been playing for the majority of the 2012-13 season.
In a somewhat shocking turn of events, Smith only turned the ball over once and he limited his "C'mon Man!" moments by letting the game come to him instead of forcing shots.
If Smith continues to be a consistent first man off the bench, the Knicks are going to be a very, very hard team to compete with.
Keith Bogans, SG, Nets: C+
Bench production has been a major issue for the Nets this season. That wasn't exactly the case for the Nets on this occasion, though.
Keith Bogans came out of nowhere and accounted for 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
There's no question that Bogans had a great night, especially when you consider his season averages of just 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Unfortunately for him, Smith had a more productive team, and his production helped the Knicks take down their crosstown rivals.
If Bogans can continue to be this kind of factor off the bench, the Nets may have more of a chance in the East. If not, they'll still be looking for answers from the guys riding the pine.
New York Knicks: B-
Who would've thought Chris Copeland would be a productive player for the Knicks?
He made up for Ronnie Brewer's weak performance with eight points on 75-percent shooting in just 23 minutes of action.
With J.R. Smith's 19 points, Pablo Prigioni's six and Kurt Thomas' one point, the Knicks ended the night with 34 points from their second unit.
It wasn't the most balanced bench performance, but it certainly got the job done. As a unit, the Knicks' bench shot an impressive 57.1 percent from the field.
Even more impressive than the offensive performance was their bench's ability to step in and continue to lock down the Nets on the defensive side of the ball.
Brooklyn Nets: C+
Kudos to the Nets for getting all eight members of their bench into the game.
Keith Bogans, Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson accounted for 25 of the Nets' 31 bench points.
Unfortunately, that production wasn't nearly enough to help the Nets overcome the mighty Knicks. Defensively speaking, the Nets' second unit was rather awful.
Whenever their second unit was on the floor, the Knicks seemed to go on at least a small run. The Nets' second unit needs to be more productive and more efficient if they are going to be a legitimate contender in the East.
After Wednesday night's performance, it's clear that the Nets' bench still isn't anything to write home about.