Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mitchell Robinson combined for 15 points during a key 23-6 run in the third quarter to lead the Knicks to a 115-96 win over the Nets on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Hardaway finished a game-high 25 points and added eight assists while Robinson scored 11 points, as the Knicks snapped a five-game losing streak. New York led 52-44 at halftime but outscored the Nets by 17 through the first 6:34 of the third quarter to take a 75-50 lead.
Robinson had three dunks, including an alley-oop from Hardaway that pushed the Knicks' lead above 20. On the next possession, Hardaway made a 3-pointer that made it 72-50.
Enes Kanter recorded a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Frank Ntilikina finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists for New York, which avenged a 107-105 loss to Brooklyn on Oct. 19.
The Nets' starting backcourt of Caris LeVert and D'Angelo Russell made 6 of 21 field goals. Spencer Dinwiddie led Brooklyn, which has lost three in a row, with 17 points.
Look. Out. Below 👀 pic.twitter.com/gxuZcqTkYK- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 30, 2018
This was one of the most impressive outings of the 2018-19 New York Knicks season. Although they've only won twice through seven games, Monday's win helped illustrate the growth of this young roster thus far.
Ntilikina, coming off a breakout 17-point performance against the Warriors, looked more aggressive than ever, a sight Knicks coaches and fans have long yearned. The second-year guard attacked pick-and-rolls with quick bursts, and didn't hesitate to shoot when left open. He shot 3-of-5 from 3-point range, but the willingness to fire alone immediately changed the way Brooklyn's defense guarded him. Long gone were defenders dropping five feet off Ntilikina like in previous outings.
His early attack took the pressure off Hardaway, who came out of the gates quiet but picked up his shooting output as the game progressed. His offense came more naturally, with fewer forced or hotly contested attempts. This led to an efficient 25-point, eight-assist night that included some timely fourth-quarter buckets in a balanced team effort.
Head coach David Fizdale's lineup change from a game ago paid further dividends. Both the first and second units are more compatible, respectively. Ntilikina initiated the offense full-time for the starters, while the bench was led by the three-headed scoring monster of Trey Burke (five points), Alonzo Trier (10 points) and Mario Hezonja (11 points). Kanter, long thriving from missed shots and smaller defenders, could provide strong clean-up duty with this unit, putting up a first-half double-double and finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Noah Vonleh brought his usual presence on the boards, though his pairing with Robinson is a mixed bag. Vonleh's skill set makes him an awkward fit next to another paint-bound big, resulting in a few errant plays trying to create something off the dribble from the perimeter. Other times, the two would shine with a savvy big-to-big assist. Nothing topped Vonleh revenge-posterizing the Nets' Jarrett Allen after the Brooklyn center dunked all over Robinson the possession prior.
New York's second-round bundle of potential saw just 15 minutes, but each seemed to contain an enthralling moment: an acrobatic scoop layup to score on the lengthy Allen of a pick-and-roll, a terrific hustle contest on an open transition opportunity for LeVert that forced a tough miss, a barrage of dunks to propel the Knicks out of the halftime break, including one off a pick in the passing lane and coast-to-coast take.
The Knicks host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at 8 p.m., while the Nets face the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Barclays Center.