Fresh off a triumphant trip overseas, the Brooklyn Nets resemble a far better team than the one that was blown out by the New York Knicks in early December.
The Nets and Knicks continue their city rivalry when the teams meet at Madison Square Garden in a Monday matinée.
Brooklyn (16-22) enters this contest on the heels of a 127-110 win over Atlanta on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London, the team's sixth victory in its last seven games. The Knicks, meanwhile, are riding another skid into a matchup with the Nets. New York dropped nine straight - its longest slide since 2006 - before a 113-83 rout in Brooklyn on Dec. 5.
The Knicks (15-25) won five straight from Jan. 5-13, including victories over Oklahoma City, Golden State and Miami, before dropping their next three. They've managed to end all three of their losing streaks of three or more games this season with road victories.
Now they need to end one at MSG, where the Nets split two games last season after moving from New Jersey.
Joe Johnson scored 26 of his game-high 29 points in the first half Thursday and nailed two buzzer-beating 3-pointers to help the Nets improve to 3-0 in the British capital.
Andray Blatche added 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Paul Pierce contributed 18 points, Alan Anderson 15 and Kevin Garnett 12.
"The ball was moving, guys were looking for each other and finding each other," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Joe has been off the charts. Not just the last few games but the whole season."
Johnson, who is averaging 16.3 points, has heated up of late, scoring at least 23 in four of his last five games. The veteran guard had a quiet game against the Knicks last month, shooting 4 for 15 with 13 points.
Most of his teammates also struggled in that contest except for Brook Lopez, who had 24 points and nine rebounds but has since been lost for the season to a broken foot.
Deron Williams and Pierce did not play in that game because of injuries, but both will be in uniform for this one. Williams has missed the last five games after receiving cortisone shots in both his ankles, but said he plans to play. The team has been thin at the point in his absence and on Saturday acquired Marquis Teague in a trade with Chicago.
The Knicks had arguably their best overall game this season in the first meeting, with six players scoring in double figures and the team putting up season bests in field goal (57.1) and 3-point (59.3) percentage.
New York has done quite the opposite during its current skid, shooting 28.8 percent (17 for 59) from long range. The Knicks are coming off a 109-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday in which they shot 34.9 percent overall.
Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 20 rebounds as New York opened an eight-game homestand that matches the longest in franchise history. The favorable stretch guarantees nothing for the Knicks, who fell to 7-13 at the Garden.
"It seems that we can't figure it out here on our home court," Anthony said. "But despite these last couple of games, I think we've got a great stretch that can work in our favor if we get some things right, adjust some things and figure it out quickly."
Anthony shot only 4 of 23 from the field, but made all 16 free throws in the first 20-20 game by a Knicks player since David Lee on April 2, 2010.