The Knicks had a really slow start against a rebuilding Brooklyn Nets team without Jeremy Lin on the floor. Brook Lopez drove his team to a 14 points lead early in the second quarter and the Nets controlled the game until late in the third act.
The newly revamped defense under Kurt Rambis was nowhere in the first, allowing Lopez to create serious damage. But once the second half kicked off, things turned around. Upset about the way they played, Jeff Hornacek went off on his players in the locker rooms, and that catalyzed the first comeback of the season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 14 of his total 22 points in the third quarter, consecutively. The Knicks outscored the Nets 19 points after halftime to seal their 3rd victory of the season. Kristaps Porzingis had 21 points, including 4 three pointers, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, while Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee combined for 27 points.
After seeing no playtime in the previous three games, Willy Hernangomez was sent in, late in the third quarter. The Spanish rookie had an explosive game and in 15 minutes he scored 14 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. He was a major part of the Knicks sucess, alongside Brandon Jennings, who had 11 assists off the bench, the most since Toney Douglas over six seasons ago.
As the game was coming to an end, with 30 seconds on the clock, Hernangomez went to help Rondae Hollis-Jefferson get up, as he landed on the floor after a harder contact with Mindaugas Kuzminskas. Jennings rushed over to pull Willy away.
He later explained how this has always been his way since he got in the league and got to play with guys like Kurt Thomas or Jerry Stackhouse. Jennings said he and Joakim Noah spoked to Hernangomez after the game about who are the players who need to be helped.
“When we’re between the lines and you have a New York Knick jersey on, that’s what we should be worried about.”
– Brandon Jennings
Hornacek loved the move, but he also praised on the bench who contributed 38 points and 22 rebounds.
“Our bench guys were great. They came in and brought the energy. Melo got hot there and got that third quarter rolling. It was a great second half for our guys to see what putting the pressure on defensively can do for your team.”
– Jeff Hornacek