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New York Knicks defeat Brooklyn Nets to capture eighth playoff seed for now

J.R. Smith was on fire in Wednesday's victory over the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 24 points on 16 field goal attempts.
J.R. Smith was on fire in Wednesday's victory over the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 24 points on 16 field goal attempts.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Wednesday's contest was already a big affair for the New York Knicks. Entering the game, the Knicks were still one-game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot and being able to sniff a postseason bid added extra urgency to each of the games remaining on their schedule. Simply put, the Knicks could not afford a defeat to anyone, let alone their crosstown rival, the Brooklyn Nets, even if the rivalry simply arose out of the fact the two teams are in close proximity to each other.

In handing the Nets a humbling 110-81 loss, the Knicks demonstrated that they are serious about reaching this whole postseason thing and that, at least for one night which included the Nets playing the second game of a back-to-back, there was no rivalry. On the court, there was clearly a superior team that was able to take advantage of their opponent's miscues.

The New York Knicks exerted their mastery over the Nets early on in the game, using what turned into pretty much a three-quarter scoring run after they took over the lead in the final couple of minutes of the first quarter. A Carmelo Anthony jumper gave the Knicks a 21-20 edge, one they refused to relinquish and one they quickly built upon as Anthony's make was the start of a 13-0 run. Even when the Nets finally did score again after a four-minute scoring drought, the Knicks kept their gas to the offensive efficiency pedal and eventually built up a 25-point halftime lead.

The Nets simply did not have enough answers for all the questions that the Knicks' stellar play was asking of them. While the Nets did close the deficit to 16 points midway through the third quarter because it would not be a Knicks game if even a commanding lead was not salted away a little bit, they were unable to come any closer and eventually they pretty much gave up any semblance of trying to win the game, starting with the fourth quarter.

Not only did the Knicks victory, coupled with the Atlanta Hawks losing to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, propel them into the Eastern Conference's eighth playoff spot, but it was also one of the more complete victories they have had all season. Their performance represented their sixth-best offensive efficiency mark and their 12th-best defensive rating in their 76 games.

For a team that has struggled so mightily throughout the majority of the season, the Knicks are currently on a spectacular run of playing excellent basketball and will look to continue their run for their final six games. If they can continue to play as well as they did on Wednesday, look for the Knicks' season to be prolonged by at least four more games.

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