By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Brooklyn Nets have come a long way. On December 5th, they were blown out by the Knicks at Barclays Center, and returned the favor on Monday afternoon at The Garden with a 103-80 victory.
The Nets are continuing to play their best basketball of the season, winning seven of eight games in January. They are 17-22 , just 2 1/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division. (yes, it is now time to look at the standings.)
On the other hand, the Knicks are a dysfunctional, injured team that fell to 15-26 and the hot seat under Head Coach Mike Woodson is boiling. MSG boss James Dolan does not like blowouts at home, especially to the Nets. This could be the last straw for Woodson.
The Nets, who were off since their game in London on Thursday, were firing on all cylinders early, and took a 52-34 lead into halftime.
They faced their biggest test in the third quarter, when the Knicks opened the quarter on a 6-0 run to pull to within eight, and kept it within 10 for most of the third.
Joe Johnson hit a three-pointer with 2:46 left to make it 69-50, which capped a 12-3 run at that point for Brooklyn. Johnson led the way with 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including 4-8 from behind the arc, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Andray Blatche had a big afternoon, with 19 points (9-for-12 FG) and 12 rebounds. He also had a three-pointer with 5;41 left in the game to make it 90-69 and seal the victory.
Deron Williams made his return from his latest ankle injury, which caused him to miss five games and the London trip. Because the starting lineup of Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson, Kevin Garnett, and Shaun Livingston has performed so well, D-Will came off the bench, the first time he has done so in his career since 2006.
Williams played 27 minutes, including staying in throughout garbage time to get his stamina back. He had 13 points (4-10 FG) and 3 assists. Livingston had four points and 2 assists in 21 minutes and facilitated the ball well.
The Nets’ defense has been a hallmark of this January resurgence, and today was no exception. They held the Knicks to 33.8 percent shooting and made just 24 of 71 shot attempts.