Building a Rivalry: Part 2
WHAT A GAME!!! Game 2 of this newly minted rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks was even more exciting than the first game between the two teams which ended in overtime. Even after that first game there were doubters saying how this matchup couldn’t be considered a rivalry because of how new it was, but after last night’s thriller all of those naysayers must jump ship. The intensity in the Barclays Center was so high that it had a playoff atmosphere feel to it. Both teams had fans representing them cheering with “Defense” and “MVP” chants all night long. The arena was filled with the expected superstar celebrities like Jay-Z, Spike Lee and many more New Yorkers that were split between the Knicks and Nets. The game was exhilarating from beginning to end and the Knicks came out on top with a 100-97 win to even the series between these two teams at 1-1.
While the excitement over this game was similar to the first game between these two teams, there were a lot of differences entering this contest. In the first matchup between theses foes, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd and the Nets were full strength, while in the second matchup the Nets were missing their stud Brooks Lopez and Knicks were healthy…that is without Shumpert and Stoudemire. After the Knicks loss in game 1, I mentioned that the absence of Jason Kidd was the main contributor to the their demise. Boy was I right! Kidd showed flashes of the All-Star who lead the then New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals a decade ago. The Knicks were in a deep hole early in the game and trailed by as many as 17 points but with the veteran leadership that Kidd has displayed all season long, there never seemed to be a sense of panic on the side of the Orange and Blue.
While Kidd kept the pace of the game exactly where the Knicks needed it to be, the real superstar of this fantastic game was the man they call Melo. Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season and proved why the New York faithful has been justly chanting “MVP MVP” on a nightly basis. Melo had a stat line of 45-5-3 while shooting a lights out 15-24 from the field. It looked at times as if Carmelo had placed a magnet in the rim and the ball and every time he tossed it up it was just drawn to the hoop. It was arguably his best game since the Knicks acquired him two years back. The Nets came out of the gates flying and were up 21-5 at the beginning of the game, but Carmelo Anthony knew this was his game to win and he put his team on his shoulders and played outstanding and inspired ball.
Brooklyn’s hot start was a huge surprise to me, especially with how well the Knicks have been playing and how poorly the Nets have been. Since the first matchup between these teams, the Knicks had gone 6-1 while the Nets have been 2-5 and they were in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Everything seemed to be in the Knicks favor heading into the game but the Nets had a secret weapon that only my man NYBobby seemed to know about. Andray Blatche, the back up to the injured Lopez, seemed to put anything he tossed up into the bucket. I called Bobby before the game and said that the Knicks were going to manhandle the Nets because Lopez was out but he responded by saying that Blatche was going to have a huge game. I hate to admit when he is right but I have to give credit where credit is due. Blatche finished with 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting and he had the best +/- on the Nets with a +9.
As for the Point Guards in this matchup, there really was a lot of disappoints on both sides…more so for the Knicks. For the second straight time against the Nets, Raymond Felton seemed to be lost on the floor for much of the game as he committed 7 of the Knicks 10 turnovers. Felton’s shooting was abysmal where he finished with 3 of 12 from the floor to end up with an ugly stat line of 8-1-7 with 7 turnovers. On the other end, Deron Williams, who is easily considered a top 3 PG in the league, had an off night himself. While he ended up with 18 points and 10 assists, he really never found a rhythm all night and he even missed a potentially game tying open three pointer.
During last night’s contest I was on the edge of my seat the whole time as the game was filled with nonstop action. With the series between these teams split 1 a piece, the next game has a lot of importance. Luckily for fans of both clubs, we don’t have to wait to long for that matchup because the two teams face off again, this time in the Garden, a week from today. I am thrilled to say that New York not only has two potentially dangerous playoff teams, but they have a newly found rivalry that I expect to be around for years.