Nets look to extend winning stretch vs. Knicks

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·3 min read
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When the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks met for the first time on Jan. 13, James Harden was on the verge of joining the Nets.

Since then, the Nets are among the hottest teams in the NBA's and the Knicks will get their chance at trying to stop Harden on Monday night when the rivals get together in Brooklyn in front of a limited crowd of about 1,500 fans.

"We're playing well, the Knicks are playing well, so that gives them obviously more of a reason to come, but just the excitement and fans wanting to get into the arena to see some basketball; see their favorite player play is another reason," Harden said.

The Nets posted a 116-109 win in the first meeting when Kevin Durant scored 26 points. In the first meeting, only nine players were available because Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs and Taurean Prince were on the verge of being included in the four-team deal that landed Harden from Houston.

Harden produced a triple-double in his debut with Brooklyn three days later and has nine so far with the Nets, who are 19-7 since he joined the team. Five of Harden's triple-doubles are in Brooklyn's current 12-1 run that has been achieved with Durant playing one game due to a hamstring injury that will keep him out again Monday.

On Saturday, Harden produced perhaps his most impressive triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He willed the Nets in the final minutes by scoring the final 10 points in a 100-95 win over Detroit.

Harden's performance came on a night when the Nets played one of their best defensive games while enduring one of their worst offensive nights.

The Nets were held to under 110 points for just the eighth time this season and while they shot 48.1 percent overall and made just six 3-pointers on 27 attempts. It was just the third time this season Brooklyn made fewer than 10 in a game.

"We can be a team that's making shots and everything's going smooth, or we can be a team that we've got to get down and do the dirty work, dive on the floor, small things, deflections," Harden said. "This was one of those games."

The Knicks are in playoff contention for the first time since 2012-13 when they won 54 games. They won 37 games the following year but since then their highest win total has been 32.

Under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks lead the league in scoring defense at 105 points per game and possess their own All-Star in Julius Randle.

The Knicks head to Brooklyn with nine wins in their past 13 games. New York bounced back from a 134-101 loss in Milwaukee on Thursday by pulling away in the second half for a 119-97 win at Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon that marked the 11th time it held an opponent under 100 points.

Randle was held to seven points Thursday against the Bucks after posting his second triple-double of the season with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists on Saturday against the Thunder. His last assist was to RJ Barrett, who scored a career-high 32 points and is averaging 21 points over his last seven games.

"We just wanted to come out today and be us," Barrett said. "Today we came out and played and got the job done."

Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) and Elfrid Payton (hamstring) missed Saturday's game and both players may be out again Monday.

--Field Level Media