Thursday night's battle of the boroughs between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets was so cringe-worthy that Twitter pleaded for the game to end as soon as possible. The Knicks emerged as the winner out of two terrible teams. Sit down, Brooklyn, because the second-worst team in the league just beat you.
Both fans and analysts alike knew this game would be a hot mess heading into Thursday night. The two teams have a combined record of 1-24 this season when trailing entering the fourth quarter, prior to Thursday night's matchup.
The Nets have the highest payroll in the NBA with $102 million. The Knicks are second in the league at $88 million. It just goes to show that you can't buy championships.
Props to the Knicks, though, for finding some offensive rhythm in the game. They were clearly motivated by the crosstown rivalry. And maybe they were motivated to show the world that they are not the laughingstock of the league, as Carmelo Anthony told Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press.
Before the start of the game, both Knicks and Nets fans were so over these early-season blues that they've actually had to appeal to humor to get through the game:
But best tweet of the night? How about this one from a fan who pretty much questions the talent and professionalism of both teams on every level. Ouch!
As the game started, the Knicks looked as if they were playing like the second half of last season. Throwback Thursday. Let's just say they were playing on fire. Buckets everywhere!
The lack of team chemistry, passing game and execution in shooting the ball disappeared for the Nets:
It's true that the Nets struggled mightily for most of the first quarter. However, by the end of the first quarter, Brooklyn was able to go on an 8-0 run to pull close to the Knicks, 30-23.
From the beginning of the second quarter and onward, things reversed.
Suddenly, the Nets were dominating possessions and scoring while New York was constantly missing threes. And that seemed like it was all the Knicks were doing...attempting three-pointers.
By halftime, the Knicks were still leading by seven, but the Nets were not too far behind. Wow. Especially considering the Nets went 17-of-40 with a 43 percent field-goal completion rate, and the Knicks were 21-for-36, shooting 58 percent of their field goals.
For the Knicks, Andrea Bargnani led the team with 11 points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and three blocks. Some people, like Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, could not believe it:
The third quarter saw the Nets spiral back to their first-quarter woes.
The old-age team moved slowly, and its defense could not stop jump shots, threes—anything.
The Knicks found themselves with an 18-5 scoring run with the final minutes in the third.
Not only were the Knicks dominating the Nets, but the crowd was also dominated by Knicks fans. Every positive from the Knicks squad, offensively and defensively, encouraged cheers from the crowd:
The Knicks outscored the Nets 34 to 16 in the third quarter.
To add fuel to the fire, Carmelo Anthony came alive late in the second half. Anthony finished the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and one block.
Things just got even worse in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks went on to win the game 113-83.
And of course, Andrea Bargnani became a fan favorite when he was ejected from the game after trash-talking Kevin Garnett:
The Nets' best player, Deron Williams, was out for his eighth consecutive game of the season. And since no one really knows when we'll see him in uniform again, the Nets really need to learn to adapt without him.
Something needs to change.
Going forward, Johnson needs to step up and contribute more offensively. And he needs to do that consistently. It's not like he's not capable; he managed to score 26 points against Memphis. And he can knock in threes, like when he went 8-of-10 against the Detroit Pistons.
But Johnson is the least of Brooklyn's problems.
The Nets have been blown out too many times this year. On November 22, they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves by 30 points. On December 3, they lost to Denver by 24 points. Thursday night they lost to the Knicks by 30 points.
Besides the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, it's difficult to say which are the top teams in the Eastern Conference. And even though they are 4-13 on the year, the Knicks still have a fighting chance to make the playoffs. The key is to share the ball offensively.
Anthony had 19 points, obviously not a 40-point game performance. But that opened the door for other players. The ball was almost evenly distributed between Anthony, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Bargnani.
Even the numbers coming off the bench were good. Tim Hardaway Jr. contributed 12 points while Amar'e Stoudemire shot 11 points.
Hey, if only the Knicks could play like this all year.
That would be great.