KNICKS 115, NETS 96
His mouth bloodied, Tim Hardaway Jr. ran to the locker room shortly before halftime on Monday night. Then he came back and helped the Knicks run all over the Nets.
Hardaway scored 25 points and tied a career high with eight assists, and the Knicks rolled to their second win of the season, beating the Nets, 115-96, at Madison Square Garden.
Frank Ntilikina added 16 points and Enes Kanter had 15 points and 15 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks, who had dropped five straight since beating Atlanta in their first game under Coach David Fizdale.
“He preaches competitors only when you step through these doors, so we can’t only preach it we’ve got to go out and do it,” Hardaway said after removing a bloodstained pad from his mouth so he could talk. “So we did it tonight.”
They ended their skid emphatically, outscoring the Nets by 59-41 over the middle two quarters and leading by as many as 25 points.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 17 points for the Nets, who dropped their third straight. They were coming off a close loss to Golden State on Sunday, and either did not have legs left or did not put forth much effort, being beaten to loose balls and unable to slow the Knicks in transition in the third quarter. The Nets were 11 for 38 (29 percent) from 3-point range after making 44.3 percent over their previous five games
“We weren’t ready to play,” Coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We can look for excuses, but this is Game 5.” (It was actually Game 7.)
“This isn’t Game 74. We should have been more ready.”
The Nets beat the Knicks, 107-105, on Oct. 19 on Caris LeVert’s layup with a second to play. This time, LeVert was 2 for 11 for just four points.
The game began to swing just before halftime, when Hardaway had a couple of baskets in an 8-0 spurt that pushed a two-point edge to 52-42. He also was hit in the mouth during that time while drawing an offensive foul and ran to the locker room to have his lip glued so he could return for the second half.
When he did, the Knicks put it away quickly. The rookie Mitchell Robinson’s steal and dunk capped a quick run of six points that made it 58-44 and led to a Nets timeout that did nothing to halt the Knicks’ momentum. Hardaway made a 3-pointer and soon after threw one of his best passes, a lob that Robinson slammed to make it 69-48.
“I think Tim has always had the reputation that he’s just a gunner, and so I want to break that stereotype of him,” Fizdale said. “And to be an elite player in this league, you have to make other people better.”