WHAT IT MEANS: The New Jersey Nets failed to make a statement against their hated rivals, the New York Knicks, in a game they dubbed their “biggest of the season.” The Nets ended up blowing a 16-point lead and fell to the Knicks, 120-116, in front of a sellout crowd Wednesday night. The Nets (23-51) have now lost four straight, and dropped to 0-3 against the Knicks this season. They are just 5-32 on the road. Meanwhile, New York (37-38) won its second in a row.
TURNING POINT: In a game of runs, there were many. The Nets opened up a 50-35 lead in the second quarter thanks to a 14-3 spurt. The Knicks got back to within one, 75-74, in the third, only to see Deron Williams spark a 9-0 burst with a pair of 3s to make it a 10-point Nets’ lead. But with both Brook Lopez and Williams saddled to the bench after picking up their fourth fouls late in the third, the Knicks mounted yet another comeback, taking their first lead -- 91-90 -- since they led 18-15 in the opening stanza. The lead see-sawed back-and-forth from there.
Williams, despite playing with five fouls, sparked a 7-2 run to put the Nets up 114-111 with 3:02 remaining in the fourth. But Chauncey Billups was fouled behind the arc and drained three free throws to knot it up, and Anthony’s first basket of the final period, a baseline jumper with 1:08 left, gave the Knicks a 116-114 edge. They took a four-point lead after Toney Douglas made two free throws, but Kris Humphries got a tip-in, and Anthony’s miss gave the Nets the final shot with 8.3 seconds left. Williams got a great look from the baseline, but front-rimmed a leaner, Billups made two free throws to make it a two-possession game, and the Knicks held on.
RETURN MAN: After missing the last six games with a strained flexor tendon in his right wrist, Williams came back looking like an All-Star playmaker for much of his return. He scored 22 points -- 16 after the half -- added eight assists and grabbed eight rebounds. But he’d love to have that final shot back. The 26-year-old was 7-for-19 from the floor.
MAKING AN IMPACT: Anthony Morrow had a season-high 30 points. The sharpshooter connected on 6-for-7 shots from 3-point range. Lopez had 16 of his 26 points in the first quarter. He also snagged nine boards. Humphries had a typical yeoman-like effort, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Anthony had a game-high 39 points. He scored 20 of them in the third quarter, but just two in the fourth. Granted, they turned out to be the biggest two points of the game. Amare Stoudemire, plagued by foul trouble himself, had 23, but Billups picked up the slack, netting 33.
NUMBERS CRUNCH: The Nets, who came in ranked 28th in the NBA in scoring (93.5 points per game), scored a season-high 68 points in the first half. They out-rebounded the Knicks, 30-13, in the opening 24 minutes, and 51-39 for the game. The Nets missed all five of their 3-pointers in the fourth, and finished 7-for-17 from downtown. The Knicks outscored the Nets, 54-42, in the paint.
UP NEXT: The Nets travel to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Then they’ll return home to face LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.