Despite some significant improvements this season, the New Jersey Nets are still a year or two away from figuring it all out on the court.
In Carmelo Anthony’s first game against the team that coveted him, he did not disappoint: Melo led all scorers with 39 points and added 10 rebounds to record a double-double.
Chauncey Billups quietly scored 33 points, while Amar’e Stoudemire poured in 23. The Knicks’ “Big Three” did most of the damage, as their next highest scorer was Toney Douglas with seven points.
Deron Williams returned to the lineup after missing the previous six games with a wrist injury. He scored 22 points—his new Nets career-high—and added eight rebounds and eight assists. However, he missed what would have been the game-tying shot with seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
Anthony Morrow, who eclipsed his season-high point total through just three quarters, had a big game, scoring 30 points and shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Brook Lopez scored 26 points, while Kris Humphries recorded his 29th double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
New Jersey established a double-digit lead early in the second quarter. Humphries had 11 rebounds within the first 17 minutes, and the Nets were playing with a passion and desire not seen since Williams last played.
The Nets scored 68 points in the first half, which is the most they’ve scored in a half all season.
The Knicks closed out the first half trailing by 10. Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups combined to score 50 of New York’s 58 first half points.
The Knicks had all the momentum early in the second half, as Anthony began to take over. A 10-0 run brought the Knicks to within one.
The Nets, however, answered with three straight three-pointers—two from Williams and one from Morrow—to push the lead back to 10.
Anthony’s 20-point third quarter allowed the Knicks to close out the third quarter down only one.
The fourth quarter saw back-and-forth lead changes, but the Knicks established a five-point lead with just over six minutes to play.
Williams began taking over, as his three-point played tied the game at 107. The Nets pushed their lead to three, but Billups answered with three clutch free-throws to once again tie the score.
After a full minute of no scoring, Anthony drilled a pull-up jumper with 1:08 to go, giving the Knicks a two-point lead.
Down by two, the Nets opted not to foul with less than 30 seconds remaining. Though known for his great closing ability, Melo missed a jumper that would have iced the game, which left the Nets down two with 8.3 seconds to go.
However, New Jersey could not capitalize, as Williams missed a 15-footer. Billups made both free throws on the other end to quell the Nets’ hopes of a miraculous comeback.
Though they had a breakout offensive performance collectively, the Nets let a win slip right out of their hands.