Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

Andray Blatche
A Knicks-Nets rivalry never really got off the ground despite preseason hype.
Credit: Getty Images

When the NBA schedule was released last August, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

The rivalry intensified when Paul Pierce proclaimed the Nets would take over the city.

But the passion never materialized, with the Knicks having one of the most disappointing seasons in team history.

There was only thing of importance for head coach Jason Kidd going into the game Tuesday.

“It’s for us to get better,” Kidd said. “They got guys over there that are trying to get better. Unfortunately, they’re not going to be in the playoffs. This is still a game for us to protect home and get better.”

The Knicks’ lack of sustained success may also prove unfortunate for Kidd’s former coach. Mike Woodson may wind up becoming the eighth former Knicks coach since the Patrick Ewing era ended in 2000, though he’ll still watch the postseason games.

“I’m a basketball guy,” Woodson said. “I watch basketball, that’s what I do. This year it’s going to be tough watching basketball. I didn’t envision that happening with our team and that’s going to be the tough part. So I’ll watch Jason and I wish all the coaches [success].”

Even if the states of both teams were positive, none of the games developed into anything memorable like the first two games between the teams in 2012-13 in Brooklyn.

The season started with a 30-point Knick blowout on Dec. 5, highlighted by Andrea Bargnani attempting to talk trash to Garnett.

At the time, the combined records of the teams were 9-27.

The second game was a Martin Luther King Jr. matinee that quickly turned into a Nets rout as part of the initial segment of a four-month turnaround.

The next game came a night after the Nets clinched the playoffs by beating Houston and on the heels of two damaging losses for the Knicks in their quest to earn the eighth spot. The Knicks shot 60 percent and won by 29.

What could have been with Bargnani

When Andrea Bargnani tumbled over Philadelphia’s Evan Turner on Jan. 22, the Knicks were stumbling along to a 15-27 record.

Since Bargnani tore a ligament in his left elbow, the Knicks are a somewhat respectable 20-18, a stretch magnified by maddening inconsistency. After the injury, the Knicks won four in a row, followed by 13 losses in 15 games and then eight straight wins.

At the time, Bargnani was averaging 13.3 points in 29.9 minutes while shooting 44.2 percent. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Bargnani was his 3-point percentage of 27.8 percent.

“It’s hard to really judge our team because there was so many injuries — guys in and out, and Andrea as well — that it’s hard to tell what kind of team we would have had had we had a full package and Bargnani would have been able to play,” Woodson said. “For the time we had him, I thought he had some positive minutes for us.”

Perhaps of bigger concern is how Carmelo Anthony will react to missing the playoffs for the first time in his career. Anthony sat Tuesday with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and did not talk to the media before the game, though Woodson painted a picture of extreme disappointment about the season, especially for someone who can opt out of his contract.

“I feel for him more than anything the kind of season that he had,” Woodson said. “He deserves to be in the playoffs. I feel bad for him.”

Teletovic sits after birth of twins

Mirza Teletovic’s second season with the Nets has been highlighted by a hard foul on LeBron James, increased playing time and five 20-point games off the bench.

On personal level for Teletovic, there was another highlight Tuesday as his wife delivered twins. He sat out against the Knicks and will not play Wednesday in Cleveland.

Teletovic will finish the regular season having appeared in 72 games and making seven starts. In those games, he averaged 8.6 points and shot 39 percent from beyond the arc, second on the team behind Joe Johnson.

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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