Playing at home in a battle for New York on national television, the Brooklyn Nets took a 79-75 lead at home into the fourth quarter. How they got there, including how the Nets blew a 17-point first-quarter lead, doesn't matter. How the Knicks came back and won does.
This is how the game was won.
Brooklyn went inside often, draining the shot clock with great ball movement and allowing Deron Williams to break down defenders and either shoot or find a big down low. Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and Andre Blatche each benefited from outstanding passing from Williams, as the Nets went to the line often. Even as Knicks guard J.R. Smith paced New York with jumpers, Williams was able to thread the needle and maintain a five-point lead, as he did for a cutting Wallace for a noisy slam dunk with just under nine minutes left.
As the Knicks took bad shots and fell behind as much as six points, Carmelo Anthony started a pivotal sequence that pulled them right back in the game with 7:30 remaining. Melo took advantage of errant Brooklyn ballhandling, turning a steal into a trip to the line. The Knicks defense then buckled down tough on the Nets offense, forcing an out-of-bounds turnover, which then turned into a quick three from Melo that pulled the Knicks within one. Melo wasn't nearly done, though. With three seconds left on the following Knicks possession, Melo received a baseline inbounds pass from Jason Kidd and hit a deep turnaround jumper from the wing to pull the Knicks within one.
The two teams traded missed 3-pointers and mediocrity for a while until finally Kidd called for the ball and tied the game with a wide-open look from just below the center of the arc, a position he would come back to (spoiler alert!). Nets forward Reggie Evans, who was caught playing too far inside on the sequence, was nowhere near Kidd, a likely Hall of Famer who also happens to be one of the better 3-point shooters of our time...which was a problem.
The Knickerbockers' ability to take advantage of turnovers would then give them their first lead of the quarter, one they would not give back the rest of the game. When a Blatche putback attempt was called off during a strong attack by Brooklyn, Anthony seized the opportunity to drive the lane on his own surge and put back his own layup attempt for a 93-91 lead with 2:45 to go.
During a timeout earlier in the quarter, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson told his team "We've got to get stops, we rebound the ball and then we push it." Anthony put those words into action. *Round of applause*
In response, Williams put BK on his back as expected, drawing fouls and making plays to tie the game every time the Nets fell behind by two. In what could have been a momentum swing, he crossed over Smith with something just nasty, then missed a deep two but had Wallace tip it in over former defensive MVP Tyson Chandler. In a true showing of star power, however, Anthony responded with a lane attack that resulted in a trip to the line and another two-point lead. It's great to see a star deliver late in the game, it reconfirms the player's status and reminds us just why we consider him one of the greats. Awesome stuff.
NOW HERE'S THE REALLY GOOD PART (IN PRESENT TENSE, SO YOU CAN PRETEND IT'S LIVE).
Joe Johnson says "whatever, Melo" and turns a hesitation dribble into a powerful, beautiful floater to tie it up at 97. For fans watching at home, it's one of those moments where you realize how great a player he is, combining size with finesse in a way that only professional athletes can. The Barclays Center is getting fired up as the magnitude of the moment is recognized as the Knicks bring the ball up the floor and the clock ticks down under a minute. The Nets are getting all up in everyone's face and drain the shot clock down to three seconds, forcing Smith, smothered on the top wing, into a poor 3-point attempt that was way too strong. Here's Brooklyn's cha----rebounded by Chandler! Out to Smith, over to Kidd who's left open again at the same spot as last time! Jerry Stackhouse rushes in as Kidd gets it off, the two collide and fall to the ground as the ball approaches the hoop, and it's good! A FOUR-POINT PLAY! But wait! The replay shows that Kidd (kind of) kicks out his leg to draw the foul, which would result in a no-call or an offensive foul.
Much to the disliking of the ESPN crew, who feel like Kidd absolutely kicked out his leg, Kidd heads to the line where he promptly misses his free throw. So the Nets, down by three with the shot clock turned off, still have a chance.
Williams, the unquestioned star of the team, rushes down the court and passes to Wallace, who quickly passes back to Williams, who swings it over to Johnson where he's met with heavy resistance. It's too late for a quick bucket and a foul now, BK has to get a three, so Johnson passes out to the top of the near wing to WALLACE? The .319 career 3-point shooter gets it off and it misses, but Johnson snags the rebound and swings it back out to the top to Williams before even touching the ground. Williams shoots...
No good. Ballgame. Knicks win 100-97.
And just like that, the Battle of the Boroughs , Part II, was written. Series tied, 1-1.
Should Kidd have been called for a foul? Take a look for yourself and comment with your decision.