For a night, the New York Knicks made everyone forget that Brooklyn had owned the city for much of the 2013-14 season.
Both teams can trot out a litany of excuses to explain away tough stretches, but the Nets simply failed to show up for tip-off at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. The Knicks ran past the Nets in a rare laugher, 110-81.
The Nets, who beat the Houston Rockets Tuesday night in Brooklyn, played a listless game from top to bottom. Every Net struggled, including the ones who did not see much floor time against the Rockets.
Only Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Alan Anderson cracked double-digit scoring. The point guard, however, did not register an assist in 28 minutes.
''It was very frustrating the way we got blown out,'' Johnson said. ''For whatever reason, we had a few guys fighting and a few guys who wasn't fighting. If we're not all on the same page, you get a lopsided score like that.''
While the Knicks are fighting for their playoff lives, the Nets surely had a lot for which to fight. Given their 14 straight home wins, the four seed or higher should boast some appeal. The Nets have lost 23 games on the road this year, including a few head-scratchers of late to the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans.
The Knicks just wanted it a little more.
''Our guys are hungry,'' Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ''Normally anybody that comes off the West Coast, when you've been out there for a while, that game coming back is normally a tough game, but our guys came out with energy and came out ready to play.''
The Nets will face a team better than the Knicks in the first round too.
Head coach Jason Kidd tried not to place too much emphasis on an off night.
“If you lose by one or 100, it’s a loss and we move on,” Kidd said.
To add insult to injury, both the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls won on Wednesday night. The Raptors feasted on the road-ravaged Rockets while the Bulls gave the Knicks quite a bit of help by dispatching the Atlanta Hawks.
The Nets now trail the Raptors by 2.5 games with eight left to play. The Raptors also hold all of the critical tiebreakers. If the season were to end today, the Nets would visit the Chicago Bulls for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs.