BROOKLYN — The Knicks gave the Nets a scare in the fourth quarter, but New York learned quickly what happens when you let Kyrie Irving take over the final 12 minutes of the game. The Nets’ lone superstar on the court on Saturday put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to help Brooklyn withstand a late-game push and defeat New York 122-115 at Barclays Center.
Irving had seven points alone in the final 1:19 to answer back for every Knicks basket as they extended their win streak over the Knicks to nine games. It is the team’s longest active win streak against any opponent.
“Yeah, it’s always good when you have somebody — I think he leads the league in points in the fourth quarter — that you know is just gonna show up every single time in the fourth quarter,” Nic Claxton said. “Having him is big and he always steps up. He’s always just so even keel no matter your score in the game. We just rallied behind me and got the win.”
The victory helped erase the bad taste left in the Nets’ mouth after an ugly loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons on Thursday night. However, it snapped some of the momentum that the Knicks had picked up after an overtime win over the Boston Celtics in their previous game.
The Nets relied on just about everyone to put up points offensively, with significant contributions coming from Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale and Nic Claxton. Irving’s biggest contributions didn’t come until the final quarter and the Nets superstar had just 11 points through the first three quarters.
“For me, I love beating the Knicks and playing against them,” Irving said. “But all in all, it’s just about the objective and that’s to win the ballgame, nothing personal.”
The Knicks had been down by as much as 19 points in the middle of the third, but went on a 15-2 run to end the period and cut Brooklyn’s lead to just seven. The Nets did get their lead to 104-90 after Irving hit a stepback jumper, but the Knicks closed the gap again when Quentin Grimes made it a three-point game with 3:07 left in the game.
Jalen Brunson pulled the Knicks back within three moments later when he made a floating jumper. That’s when Irving put the game away with his scoring stretch.
Irving finished the game with 32 points and shot 12-of-27 from the field and knocked down five threes in the win. Irving is averaging 36.3 points per game over his last six games.
“I didn’t want to cut into the rhythm. I just wanted to make timely shots,” Irving said. “My teammates did a great job of getting to spots, getting to corners, spacing out and just making the game a lot easier for me. Didn’t put too much pressure on myself going into the fourth quarter and just play off the rhythm and flow of the game.”
All five Nets starters ended the night in double digits, with Joe Harris and Royce O’Neale each going 4-of-7 from three-point range Nic Claxton pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. The Brooklyn big also blocked three shots which included a monster block on Mile McBride.
Brunson finished with 26 points for the Knicks on 10-of-19 shooting and R.J. Barrett had 24 points and shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Julius Randle ended the night with 19 points and 19 rebounds and Immanuel Quickly had 16 points off the bench.
The first half had been largely controlled by the Nets as the Knicks failed to do much in the first 24 minutes. New York led for less than 20 seconds before the Nets gained control.
Brooklyn shot above 50% from the field and from three-point range in the first half.
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