Knicks top Nets for first win
NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis dominated, rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina impressed in his home debut and the New York Knicks played defense.
For the first time in the young season, things went right for the New York Knicks on multiple fronts.
Porzingis scored 30 points, Ntilikina played 22 1/2 minutes in his first extended action and the Knicks pulled away in the third quarter for a 107-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Friday night.
The Knicks (1-3) became the last team to record their first win and avoided their first 0-4 start since dropping the first five games of the 59-loss 2005-06 season by putting all three elements together.
Porzingis turned in his third 30-point game of the season and sixth of his three-year career by exploiting mismatches most of the night and shooting 13 of 24. The 7-foot-3 forward did a bulk of his damage against 6-foot-7 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
“You can’t play around with the ball, you got to make a quick decisive move,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He just caught it, made a quick move and shot it.”
Ntilikina didn’t play in the preseason due to a knee injury, went scoreless in eight minutes during the season-opening loss at Oklahoma City and missed the next two games with a sprained left ankle. He entered the game late in the first quarter and produced nine points and five assists.
The showings by Porzingis and Ntilikina occurred on a night when the Knicks rebounded from a nightmarish 110-89 loss in Boston by holding Brooklyn to 40.5 percent shooting and dominating in rebounding (55-34), second-chance points (31-6) and points in the paint (50-26).
“I thought our guys helped each other out,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “I thought Frank’s influence when he got in there with his long arms (helped) defensively. It is a continual work for us but they showed some progress tonight.”
New York recorded its first win of any kind since ending last season’s 51-loss campaign with a 114-113 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on April 13. The Knicks allowed their fewest points in any game since allowing 81 to the Indiana Pacers on March 14.
“Our attention to detail was there tonight,” New York guard Courtney Lee said. “Our effort and energy was a lot better tonight.”
Besides Porzingis’ big night and Ntilikina’s debut, four others reached double figures for the Knicks, who outscored the Nets 60-44 after halftime. Lee added 13, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott contributed 12 apiece, Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 11 while Kyle O‘Quinn grabbed 12 rebounds.
For the Nets, enough effort was tough to muster after a pulsating 112-107 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday. The Nets produced season lows in points and field goal percentage and fell to 0-3 on the road.
“We couldn’t handle their pressure,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They got into us and then we couldn’t keep them off the boards.”
D‘Angelo Russell returned after sitting out Wednesday with a right knee sprain and led the Nets with 15 points. Quincy Acy added 12 and Trevor Booker finished with 10 for the Nets as the Knicks led for the final 27:34.
Porzingis scored 14 points as the Knicks held a 47-42 lead at halftime by holding the Nets to 14 points in the second quarter and forcing eight turnovers.
The lead reached 58-44 about four minutes into the third on a three-point play by Porzingis. The Knicks took their first 20-point lead on an uncontested 3-pointer by Lee with 5:03 left in the period and carried an 83-66 lead into the fourth.
Porzingis then capped his big night by converting a Brooklyn turnover into a breakaway dunk with 4:38 remaining for a 98-78 lead.
“We were porous in the post with Porzingis,” Atkinson said. “When they did miss we couldn’t get the rebound.”
NOTES: Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov reportedly agreed to sell 49 percent of the team to Chinese businessman Joseph Tsai. Tsai reportedly has an option to take over control the team in several years. ... New York G Jarrett Jack made his first start since Jan. 2, 2016, when he was with Brooklyn. He finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists in 25:30. ... Brooklyn F Quincy Acy and New York F Wily Hernangomez were assessed double technicals with 28.7 seconds left in the first half for a minor shoving incident under the basket. ... Brooklyn F DeMarre Carroll was hit in the nose with 3:10 left in the third quarter in a collision with New York F Michael Beasley. ... New York G Ron Baker was inactive for the first time. After the game, coach Jeff Hornacek said Baker was dealing with ankle soreness.