Nets beat Knicks again, improve to 7-55
NEW YORK (AP)—Here’s one bit of bad news for the New Jersey Nets as they try to escape NBA infamy: no more games against the Knicks.
The Nets improved their NBA-worst record to 7-55, while the Knicks missed all 18 attempts in the most futile 3-point shooting night in league history.
Courtney Lee(notes) added 25 in his return to the starting lineup for the Nets, who are trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in NBA history. They beat the Knicks for the second straight time, but have completed the season series with their almost-as-hapless neighbors across the Hudson River.
Taking advantage of the easiest game on a difficult early March schedule, the Nets snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the first time since stunning Boston last Saturday. Despite its woeful record, New Jersey has actually won three straight road games.
“When everybody’s healthy and we’re all on the same page and making the right plays for each other, the game is easy,” Lee said.
David Lee(notes) scored 23 points and Wilson Chandler(notes) had 20 for the Knicks, who lost for the 12th time in 14 games. New York also joined Charlotte as the only teams with multiple losses to the Nets this season.
The Knicks got only two points in 23 minutes from Tracy McGrady(notes) and were frequently booed in the second half. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 18 attempts were the most ever without a make.
According to research by STATS, LLC dating to the 1986-87 season, the previous most attempts without a make was 16 by Washington against the Celtics on Nov. 2, 2007.
“At a certain point you do have to score some,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They got hot and they got confidence and they just beat us.”
Courtney Lee, who missed three games with a sprained left ankle, helped the Nets put it away early in the fourth. The Knicks had trimmed the deficit to five before New Jersey ran off 11 straight points, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Lee, to make it 96-80 with 6:13 remaining.
The Nets were coming off consecutive home losses to NBA powers Cleveland and Orlando and are running out of time to surpass the 9-73 record of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers that is the worst in NBA history. This was the opener of a five-game road trip that now moves to the Western Conference for games at Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Houston.
It didn’t seem they would take advantage of the most winnable game on the trip the way they started, when they couldn’t shoot and didn’t defend.
“From probably three minutes of the first quarter on we seemed like a confident team,” Harris said. “That first 10 minutes or so we looked a little lost out there, but we got it together.”
The Nets missed 12 of their first 13 shots against one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams and fell behind 18-4 on Lee’s three-point play with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter. Lopez and Harris both were forced to the bench after picking up two fouls, and Yi Jianlian(notes) was lost with 2:56 left when he appeared to step on a New York player’s foot while running back into defensive rebounding position.
New York was up 16 with under 1 1/2 minutes left in the period, but New Jersey cut it to 32-22 entering the second. The Nets then surged into the lead with a 15-4 spurt, going ahead 43-42 with 4:50 remaining in the half on a basket by Lopez that drew loud boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd. They extended the lead to 56-50 at the break.
It was a two-point game early in the third before Harris and Lee combined for 12 points in a 14-4 burst, highlighted by a nifty scoop layup from Harris, that extended the lead to 70-58 midway through the period.
NOTES: D’Antoni said center Eddy Curry(notes) could play Wednesday when New York opens a five-game road trip at San Antonio. Curry returned to practice recently after having left knee surgery on Jan. 18. … Chandler started for New York after coming off the bench Friday in Toronto. He had missed the previous two games for personal reasons.