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Harris goes down, so do Nets

Known for their slow starts, especially at home, the Garden crowd was finally treated to the true Mike D’Antoni offense last night.

Knicks 111, Nets 100


When Devin Harris went down, the Knicks took off.


The Knicks [10-9] used a 14-2 run after the All-Star point guard left in the third with a leg injury and beat the Nets 111-100 last night at the Garden. The Knicks received a team-high 35 points from Amare Stoudemire. Wilson Chandler added 27 points, while Raymond Felton chipped in with 21 points and 10 assists.


The game was back-and-forth to start, as there were nine lead changes in the opening quarter. The Nets’ budding star, center Brook Lopez, was the lone Net threat as he knocked down 15 points in the opening stanza. He finished with a game-high 36 points. Lopez’s early dominance was due to the absence of Ronny Turiaf, who sat out with a bad knee. The 6-foot-10 Stoudemire was forced to man the middle against the 7-foot-1 Lopez, which forced the Knicks to double-team. Their ill-timed switching and rotations were so out of whack in the first half, that Lopez had his pick of wide open teammates to pass to. Travis Outlaw had 10 of his 13 points in the first half, as the Nets increased its early lead to nine. Reserve point guard Jordan Farmar added 17 points, most coming after Harris' departure.


But like their football brethren, the New York Giants, something clicked for the Knicks following the halftime break. They raced out to a 12-7 run to start the third quarter and added to that quick start by smothering the Nets [6-12] into 5-of-19 shooting and four turnovers.


Stoudemire, who has notched 72 points in the last two games, was tremendous in the tide-turning third quarter, as he had 12 points. He was aided by Felton, who played almost error free ball in the second half. Felton only committed two turnovers in the decisive second half, superbly setting up teammates.


The Knicks weren’t as potent from behind the three-point arc [4-of-19] as head coach Mike D’Antoni would’ve liked but they made up for it by attacking the rim, shooting 51 percent from the field, and controlling the paint with 42 rebounds – led by Chandler’s 11 boards. New York was also efficient from the foul line, going 25-of-29, led by Stoudemire’s 9-of-11 and Chandler’s perfect eight-of-eight.


The Knicks [3-5 at home] finally picked up a home win after dropping three of its previous four home dates. They get a nice three-day rest before they head to New Orleans, Friday, so it’ll be crucial to see how they react to some prosperity after getting over the .500 hump.


WHAT WENT RIGHT:


1. The Knicks’ up-tempo pace got them off to a fast start, as they registered 30 first-quarter points, taking an early lead after the opening period. Known for their slow starts – especially at home – it was refreshing for the home crowd to be treated to the true Mike D’Antoni offense. All five starters scored in the frenzied first quarter, led by Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton’s team-leading seven points. Rookie shooting guard Landry Fields chipped in with four points and three rebounds, while Amar’e Stoudemire added six points and three rebounds.


2. Not that the Knicks did anything “right” to cause this but things got easier for them when former all-star point guard Devin Harris hurt his left leg late in the third quarter. He never returned after his teammate, hulking power forward Kris Humphries, collapsed on top of a prone Harris during a block attempt on a Knicks fast break. Harris wasn’t the factor he usually is, but following his exit, the Nets went on a 14-2 tailspin and netted only 15 points, while committing five turnovers.


3. The Knicks awakened from their second-quarter slumber to erupt in the third quarter by yielding 15 points and committing only three turnovers, while harassing the Nets into 6-of-19 shooting and four turnovers. New York used a 12-7 run out the gate to start the third and cruised to its biggest lead of the night – 15 points -- with a 22-9 run to close out the quarter.


3 WHAT WENT WRONG:


1. Not that usual starting center Ronny Turiaf is an all-star but his absence in the middle was surely felt. Turiaf sat out with a sore knee, as Wilson Chandler took his spot in the lineup. Without Turiaf’s famous hustle, strength, and tenacity, Nets center Brook Lopez went to work on Amare Stoudemire, who was forced to man the middle. Lopez had 15 of his game-high 36 points in the first quarter and was too much to handle on the blocks. When the Knicks countered with rookie center Timofey Mozgov, the Russian import simply collected his customary two fouls in two possessions and wasn’t heard from again until the start of the fourth.


2. Due to Lopez’s dominance – and New York’s subsequent double-teaming – it left open looks and uncontested layups for unsung Nets. Lopez, who had 21 points in his first 17 minutes, was also a willing passer out of the Knicks’ double-teams, constantly finding open teammates. Travis Outlaw, who had 10 of his 13 points in the first quarter, and Jordan Farmar, who replaced the injured Harris by adding 17 points, made the Knicks pay by knocking down wide open shots.


3. The Knicks’ youthful bench wasn’t much help, as Bill Walker, Anthony Randolph, the hobbled Toney Douglas, and Mozgov had little effect on the outcome. Usual prime reserves Walker and Douglas only chipped in with five points in 27 minutes, while the seldom-used Randolph and Mozgov could only muster four combined points in 19 minutes. Overall, the Knicks’ bench was outscored by the Nets’ reserves, 28-9.

 
 
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