Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are gone, and so is the Nets’ dominance of New York’s basketball rivalry. Jalen Brunson scored 40 points, Josh Hart added a season-high 27 in his second game with his new team and the Knicks snapped a nine-game losing streak against Brooklyn with a 124-106 victory Monday night. Julius Randle had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who beat the Nets for the first time in three years. Brooklyn never lost to the Knicks when Durant or Irving played.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve been really good the past couple of years and they were great tonight,” Brunson said, “but I think we just had the upper hand in the second half and we kind of just turned it up a little bit and came away with a win.”
The seventh-place Knicks pulled within two games of the Nets for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The top six teams are guaranteed playoff spots.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 28 points for the Nets, who showed again how much of a struggle scoring could be after trading their two All-Stars last week. Cam Johnson had 14, but Mikal Bridges, who came with him from Phoenix in the Durant trade, was 2 of 8 for seven points.
“That was the overall challenge, just to be able to put the ball in the basket,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And it’s something we’re going to work on and stress as a group.”
The Knicks beat the Nets twice in the 2019-20 season, which Durant missed while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery. Irving was injured for one Knicks victory, then left Madison Square Garden after learning of Kobe Bryant’s death before the most recent one on Jan. 26, 2020.
Brunson scored 17 in the decisive third quarter on his way to his third 40-point game of the season after never having one in the regular season during his first four years with Dallas.
“Obviously seeing him play in college and he was amazing and I knew he would have a long career in the NBA, but I didn’t think it was going to be how he’s playing now,” said Hart, Brunson’s teammate at Villanova. “And he’s someone who should be an All-Star and he’s playing at an All-Star level.”
Brunson turned the game in the Knicks’ favor for good after it was tied at 80 late in the third quarter. Brunson had a basket and 3-pointer that started a 13-3 finish to the period for the Knicks, with his 3 making it 93-83.
Hart, acquired from Portland last week, converted a three-point play to push the lead to 12 with 7:05 remaining and the Knicks were never in jeopardy again.
Joe Harris, who had made six 3-pointers and scored 18 points in each of the last two games, took only one shot. ... Seth Curry missed his fifth straight game with a left adductor strain. Vaughn was hopeful Curry could be able to play Wednesday in the team’s final game before the All-Star break.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said C Mitchell Robinson, who had surgery Jan. 19 for a broken right thumb, should be cleared for contact during practices over the All-Star break. ... RJ Barrett was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in the first half. He finished 2 of 8 for four points.
Trade-deadline week put three players from Villanova’s 2016 national championship team in New York, with Hart joining Brunson on the Knicks, and Bridges going to the Nets. Brunson and Bridges won another title together in 2018.
Bridges’ consecutive games streak, the longest current one in the NBA, reached 367 even though he missed the Nets’ game against Chicago last Thursday. Bridges wasn’t available to play after his trade from Phoenix in the blockbuster for Durant wasn’t approved in time, and the league determined he shouldn’t be penalized for not playing in a game for which he wasn’t eligible. Br
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition