It wasn’t even close.
If we follow the late legendary Kobe Bryant’s definition, a rivalry is only a rivalry if the two teams involved fight each other from time to time.
The Knicks haven’t beaten the Nets since the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
That didn’t change Wednesday night.
The so-called borough rivalry is as lopsided as the final score was just hours after Nets general manager Sean Marks introduced Jacque Vaughn as Steve Nash’s full-time replacement at head coach. The Nets outplayed the Knicks at both ends of the court, moved the ball, made open shots and made consistent saves in their blowout 112-85 win at Barclays Center on Wednesday.
It was another performance that underscored the very reason Marks felt comfortable promoting Vaughn in the first place. The Nets (5-7) are now 3-2 in games Vaughn has coached and have won three of their last four games.
The Knicks fans in attendance sporting the famous orange and blue never had a chance to get into the game because the Nets opened it wide in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
The only time they were audible was in the fourth quarter, when they got restless as Brooklyn’s lead grew to over 30. Knicks fans started booing Evan Fournier after he bricked a three wide open on the panel from the left wing.
“Holy shit! a Knicks fan shouted from the stands after the miss.
There were tons of misses – 59 to be exact – for the Knicks and not that many for the Nets, led by Kevin Durant, whose ability to repeatedly shoot Julius Randle’s contest forced Randle to keep the lead lowered in disbelief.
Durant and Randle frequently clashed, paired as opposing captains of New York’s two professional basketball teams. On a possession, Durant shot a three on Randle’s hand, and the two laughed as they ran upfield once the shot went in.
However, those laughs only continued for one team. Durant finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, but got help from four other teammates who each scored in double figures. Meanwhile, Randle led the Knicks with 24 points, but the Knicks struggled to generate shots in Tom Thibodeau’s stagnant offense.
Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett were the only other Knicks players to score in double figures.
The Nets never trailed in their wire-to-wire victory. A number of factors were in play as they upped the ante in another victory that puts the Nets closer to .500.
The ball hardly ever stayed for the Nets on Wednesday night, except when Durant used possessions as his personal mission to get to Randle early in the game.
The Nets have recorded 30 assists — with Durant tallying 12 — on 42 field goals. Eight different players have recorded at least one assist.
A game is addition by subtraction: without Irving, a scorer dominating the ball, the Nets had to score by committee. More importantly, though, it’s Brooklyn’s improved defense that has created more scoring opportunities simply because the team doesn’t face a set defense every time on the court.
That defense will be tested as the Nets prepare to embark on a four-game West Coast road trip against both star-studded Los Angeles teams and Damian Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers.