Kristaps Porzingis wants to make a postseason push and he finally played like it Tuesday.
The Latvian was scorching from beyond the arc dropping 28 points – his highest total in over three weeks – and was assisted by a 20-point, 20-rebound effort from Enes Kanter in another cruise-control victory over the Nets, 111-95.
It completed a four-game season sweep of the Nets, the first time the Knicks accomplished that against their geographic rival since 2011. Like the previous three matchups, this was hardly competitive.
The Knicks (23-28), who won consecutive games for first time since mid-December, led by 8 after the first quarter, then 20 at the break. Their advantage never dipped into single-digits in the second half. New York’s four wins over the reeling Nets (18-33), who’ve lost four straight, were by an average of 14.8 points.
Brooklyn stinks again this year.
“We’ve gotta be better,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game. “They’ve pretty much dominated us for three games. It’s gotta be a good motivating factor for us. We’ve got to play better against them and it’s been a bad matchup for us and give them a lot of credit. They’ve kind of outplayed us at every position. The coaches have outplayed us, too. Jeff’s done a great job.”
Jeff Hornacek’s Knicks moved to a perfect 4-0 this season against the Nets.
A day after having seven stitches inserted into his lip because his face caught an elbow in practice, Kanter was a menace on the boards and left the game to an ovation in the fourth quarter. It was his second 20/20 game of the season.
Porzingis’ six 3-pointers – on just eight attempts – represented a season-high.
Frank Ntilikina resurfaced with an active 8-point, 5-assist performance. Some of his best minutes were alongside Trey Burke in the backcourt, with Ntilikina playing off the ball.
Burke scored two points in 17 minutes with four assists.
Beyond their efficient 3-point shooting overall (13-of-26), the Knicks defense was impressive while holding the Nets to 42 percent from the floor. That side of the ball has been an issue lately. Hornacek hopes the team has turned a corner.
“Defense is not just three or four guys out there at one time,” he said. “You need all five guys even if they’re on the weak side they have to be providing some sort of help, they need some sort of activity out there. and if one guy is not doing it, sometimes you can hide a guy. If you have two guys, it’s awfully tough to ever stop anybody. So we need all five guys to play defense when they’re out there.”
He certainly needs that with upcoming games against the Celtics, Bucks and Raptors.
Ron Baker suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and it didn’t look good. The reserve guard swiped at a ball – against the momentum of a rising Nets player – and immediately held his right shoulder in pain. He was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game.