For this game — and most games against the Nets — the Knicks should be happy that James Dolan refuses to enter Barclays Center.
The team owner, who has set the bar at playoffs this season, would’ve witnessed an embarrassment Saturday from his Knicks, who were pathetic for much of Saturday’s 122-115 loss until a too-little, too-late comeback in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks (27-24) dropped their ninth straight to the crosstown rivals, although ‘rivalry’ doesn’t really apply to this matchup. It’s more of a bully situation at this point. On Saturday, the Nets (30-19), playing without the injured Kevin Durant, led throughout and got dagger 3-pointers from Kyrie Irving in the final 65 seconds.
Irving finished with 31 points in 41 minutes, fileting New York’s perimeter and Jalen Brunson. Brooklyn shot a ridiculous 55% on 40 3-point attempts, ending swaths of Knicks fans to the exits in the final minutes.
The audience included the cream-of-their-fields Mariano Rivera and Mike Krzyzewski. It didn’t include Dolan, who revealed he’s been to the arena across the Manhattan Bridge because he wouldn’t be comfortable.
His team isn’t very comfortable, either. The Knicks have just one victory in Brooklyn in five years. Durant’s personal winning streak against the Knicks stands at 13, with a ridiculous 21-3 record overall. He missed his ninth straight game Saturday with a sprained knee, with the Nets now 3-6 without their All-Star.
For the Knicks, Brunson scored 26 and RJ Barrett added 24. But the problem was defense. Coming off consecutive victories against Eastern Conference elites Boston and Cleveland, the Knicks laid a dud in their first game on ABC.
It was uninspiring from the start for the Knicks, who trailed by as many as 18 in the first half and went into the break losing, 62-49. The Nets nailed 11 treys in the first half on 52% shooting, with Royce O’Neale and Yuta Wantanabe hitting three apiece.
The Knicks cut the deficit to 3 with about three minutes remaining, but then the Nets nailed three straight 3-pointers — including two from Irving — and the game was over.