Linsanity was temporarily put on ice due to the red-hot shooting of the Nets, as the Knicks fell to their cross-river rivals, 100-92.
It was almost poetic justice that Nets point guard Deron Williams almost single-handedly destroyed the Knicks as it was at his expense that the Jeremy Lin sensation began in New Jersey over a month ago. Williams, who once went on record saying he wasn’t impressed with the Linsanity craze, backed up his chatter by registering a game-high 38 points, including 8-of-14 from 3. His eight 3s were a career high. Williams wasn’t alone with his long-range marksmanship as rookie swingman MarShon Brooks added 18 points, with two made 3s, while DeShawn Stevenson chipped in with 14 points on the strength of four 3s.
Williams was so hot from beyond the arc that he only made two field goals inside the arc with the other makes coming from 3. His third quarter was what really separated himself from Lin and Co., as he tallied 18 points on 4-of-5 from 3.
Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni said the matchup was just bad and was quick to give credit to Williams’s hot hand. D’Antoni then added he was not surprised by Williams’s big night.
“The biggest problem was that Deron Williams is really good. He was on tonight and is one of the best in the league,” D’Antoni said, adding he didn’t think his big night had anything to do with a personal vendetta against Lin. “Give [Williams] credit. He had a great game. But Deron Williams doesn’t need much of a prod. Jeremy still had a good night, but Deron just had a great night.”
The Knicks led after one quarter, 21-18, but that was about as good as it got for the home team as the Nets turned a 12-point deficit into a lead that got as high as 18, good for a 30-point turnaround. The Knicks got the deficit to as low as seven points midway through the final quarter, but a late 7-0 Nets run restored order for New Jersey.
Lin finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and four steals, while Amar’e Stoudemire added 17 points in defeat. Landry Fields finished with a rare double-double as he had 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony made his return after missing the last seven games with a groin injury, but he looked rusty for the most part, finishing with just 11 points.
D’Antoni said he feared going into the game that his team didn’t have it, following Sunday’s big win over the defending champion Mavericks. But ultimately it wasn’t an excuse because the Nets were playing the third game of a back-to-back-to-back trip.
“Our energy wasn’t where it needed to be. I understand that we got an emotional win yesterday and came out a little flat tonight but we had to pick it up and we couldn’t do it,” D’Antoni said. “Once you turn it off it’s hard to turn it back on. … We still have some sorting out to do and need to figure some things out.”
The Knicks will have to figure out their rotation in the coming days, as they embraced the return of Carmelo Anthony (groin) and Baron Davis (back). The two were understandably rusty, as Anthony shot 4-of-11 for 11 points with six turnovers, while Davis played just nine minutes and added just three points and an assist.
Lin said he’s happy the team is starting to get healthy and added it’s just a matter of time before the team jells. And despite the lackluster effort, the point guard said he’s confident tonight was more aberration than reality.
“Anytime you have three new guys adding into the mix [Anthony, Davis and J.R. Smith] your identity as a team will change, so we need to figure out our identity,” Lin said. “But we’re not in panic mode. We’ll have to work through some struggles, but as long as we’re all committed we’ll be fine.”
The Knicks weren’t fine following the first quarter, as they played catch-up the entire time. And when they did chip away at the Nets’ lead, New Jersey managed to pull away. Not even Williams leaving the door open for a possible Knicks comeback when he inexplicably picked up his fifth foul with 7:42 remaining -- and later fouled out at the 3:07 mark -- could help the Knicks, as New York dropped its second loss to an inferior opponent in its last three games.
The Knicks (16-17) made it interesting in the waning minutes following Williams’s disqualification, as Lin and Steve Novak knocked down 3-pointers, but New Jersey (10-24) mounted a big enough margin that it was just too much for the Knicks to overcome.
» Former Knicks big man Shelden Williams had a strong game on the glass as he gathered 10 rebounds. Williams outrebounded all but one of his former teammates, as he filled in admirably for center Brook Lopez (foot), who’s slowly being ingratiated back into the starting lineup.
» Knicks center Tyson Chandler has been lauded for his leadership all season, but he unraveled against the Nets -- in large part due to the aggressiveness of power forward Kris Humphries. Chandler had a nice game as he finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals but it was his chippy play with Humphries down the stretch that seemed to unhinge the usually civil Chandler. Humphries, who was booed roundly all game in large part due to his failed relationship with Kim Kardashian, played the villain role to the fullest, including taunts towards the Garden crowd. He even got Chandler to earn a technical foul late in the game that seemed to be the impediment to their comeback. Humphries finished with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.