The Nets scored a double victory on Wednesday — acquiring James Harden in a blockbuster four-team trade, then survived a late scare from the Knicks, 116-109, for their second straight win.
Even with the Nets showing up with just nine players, they still dominated the game until the final three minutes.
Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and DeAndre Jordan keyed the Nets’ breakaway in the second quarter. They outscored the Knicks, 35-20, in that pivotal quarter and held a 16-point halftime lead.
The Nets were cruising to a runaway victory, 113-93, when Steve Nash pulled out Durant, Harris, and Jordan with 3:23 left in the game.
That’s when the Knicks made the game more entertaining. A late fightback forced Nash to insert Durant and Harris back after the Knicks came within five, 114-109, in the final 17 seconds.
It was a run too late for the Knicks, who absorbed their fourth straight loss after a surprising 5-3 start.
Durant led the Nets with 26 points and six assists in just 30 minutes. Harris and Bruce Brown, who continued to make an impact off the bench, added 15 apiece. Jordan, who is now firmly entrenched in the starting unit after Jarrett Allen’s departure, came within a rebound shy of a double-double. The veteran big man finished with nine points, 12 boards, and two blocks.
RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley finally put an end to their shooting slump. But it was still not enough to overpower the Nets’ firepower.
Barrett had 20 points, including 14 in the third quarter, while Quickley added 19. They shot an identical 7-of-15 from the field.
Julius Randle bounced back from his worst outing with 30 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
For most of the game, the Nets dominated the Knicks — a reflection of the great divide.
At 31, Durant lives in the moment and is chasing the Nets’ first championship. Barrett and Quickley, both in their early 20s, represent the future of the Knicks.
The Nets mortgaged their future for the present with the Harden trade. They have cashed in all their future picks for a chance to compete for titles.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Knicks have zero stars but so much cap space and draft capital. At best, they might compete for the play-in or, worst, end up in the lottery again.
The two New York teams are operating on different timelines. On this night, it showed.
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