Kevin Durant put up a triple-double, Seth Curry was scorching hot and the Nets kicked off the Jacque Vaughn era with a resounding 112-85 win over the Knicks at Barclays Center.
The Brooklyn victory came hours after the Nets named Vaughn as the team’s new head coach, removing the interim tag a little more than a week after they parted ways with Steve Nash. The win was the Nets’ third in their last four games and moves them to 5-7 on the year after starting 2-6 through their first eight contests.
“I think we really came out with the right mindset,” Vaughn said. “That first group really got us established, our will. We picked up fullcourt really tried to put an imprint on the game and then guys filtered in off the bench and had an impact. Kevin’s job of getting the group going, his ability to be a hub for us, rebound for us, come up with a triple-double, set the tone and, pretty impressive.”
It was a resounding win on a night where four separate Nets set new seasons highs, including Durant’s 12 rebounds and 12 assists and Curry’s 23 points. The night was also one of the more impressive games for Ben Simmons, who had missed four games before returning to the lineup earlier this week against Dallas.
It extended the Nets’ dominance over their crosstown rivals as Brooklyn secured its eighth straight win over the Knicks and their fifth consecutive at home over New York.
“Regardless of each team’s record, it’s always going to be a rivalry regardless of who’s on the floor,” Durant said. “There’s always gonna be a rivalry because the fans in New York City are so passionate and they love sports so much that there’s always gonna be competition. So as long as I’ve got a Nets jersey on I’m always — if I see a Knicks fan, I’m always gonna give them a thumbs down or just give them some shit about being a Knicks fan.
“So it only adds to the rivalry and the fans feel more engaged if they see a player engaged in the rivalry as well. So it’s all in fun.”
Durant finished the game with 29 points, along with 12 rebounds and 12 assists on 10-of-19 shooting. The superstar’s triple-double was his fifth as a Net and also recorded one against the Knicks last season in April.
Curry shot 6-of-11 from three-point range while adding three rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal. The Nets’ sharpshooter’s 23 points off the beach are the most by any Brooklyn reserve this season and came in Curry’s fourth game of the year.
Sumner had an impressive night of his own from three-point range, which saw him go 3-for-3 on his first three attempts from beyond the arc.
“He’s going out there and trying stuff,” Durant said about Sumner. “That’s the best way for you to get over an injury is just to try, test yourself, push yourself to the limit. He’s getting into the paint, making threes and he’s just playing fast. I’m excited for him.”
The Nets outscored the Knicks in a number of different categories, including points in the paint (40-30), second chance points (21-11) and fastbreak points (16-10). Brooklyn shot nearly 50% from the field and 41.2% from three-point range.
The Knicks shot a paltry 32.2% from the field and an even uglier 27.9% from beyond the arc. Julius Randle led New York’s scoring with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
“I think overall we’re putting guys on the floor hopefully that continue to play with each other,” Vaughn said. “Getting into the paint, if we can continue to do that, put pressure on the defense we have multiple ballhandlers out there. We can play small. Kevin can handle which is very unusual. We can bring smalls in to set screens. So we’re just taking advantage of the spacing and guys are just playing freely which is great to see.”
The Nets never trailed in the game on Wednesday night, quickly jumping out to 12-4 anchored by baskets from Durant, Sumner, Nic Claxton and Joe Harris. Sumner knocked down a three with 5:35 left in the first quarter to extend the Brooklyn lead to 16.
The Knicks went on a quick 5-0 run to start the second before Vaughn called a timeout to slow down New York, which had within 11. An Immanuel Quickly floater and Even Fournier three-pointer had cut the Nets’ lead to 38-27.
However, the Nets opened the game back up with Claxton hitting a pair of free throws and Durant making a pull up jumper with 3:18 left in the half to make it a 62-39 game.
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Brooklyn went into halftime with a 25-point lead after Joe Harris made a three-point shot with 27.6 left on the clock. The Nets contained to maintain control of the game, but the Knicks did cut their deficit to 15, but the Nets responded with six unanswered points to end the third quarter.
The Nets continued to pile on in the final 12 minutes of the game. Harris’ three with 4:50 left in the game gave Brooklyn their largest lead of the night at 108-73.