In a rarity, fans of the New York Knicks were rooting for the hated Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night. 

That didn’t go as hoped. 

At least their favorite team won. 

Without Kyrie Irving (shoulder injury management) and Kevin Durant (hamstring), James Harden couldn’t pull off “The Comeback in Phoenix: Part II.” 

Dallas Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis had their way with the Nets in a 115-98 blowout victory at Barclays Center that ended Brooklyn’s eight-game winning streak.

Harden had 25 of his 29 points in the first half, but sat the majority of the fourth quarter with the score out of hand. Doncic (27) and Porzingis (18) combined for 45 points.

The Knicks hold the Mavericks’ unprotected 2021 first-round pick from the Porzingis’ trade. Both Dallas and New York are .500 teams. After starting 9-14, the Mavericks are 16-16. The West is way tougher than the East, but that selection is trending out of the lottery. Porzingis’ health — and defense — could have a lot to do with that. 

The Latvian Unicorn has been in the news recently because Dallas has been quietly gauging trade interest in its second-best player. Remember: At the time of the Mavericks’ blockbuster, Porzingis and the Nets had mutual interest. It’s a fun “What if?” 

Brooklyn and New York both started 8-18 in 2018-19, and could end up meeting in the 2020-21 playoffs, the ultimate meeting of David vs. Goliath. The Knicks already have as many victories as they did that entire season — 17. 

Knicks’ fans are flying high — narrow winners on Saturday night over a quality opponent in Indiana — with a competent front office led by Leon Rose and a transformational coach in Tom Thibodeau who has gotten the most out of his roster, with Julius Randle going from persona non grata to All-Star participant. Their plan of getting Durant and Irving blew up, but they finally appear to be trending in the right direction.  

By the way, Jalen Brunson, the son of ex-agent Rose’s first NBA client, Rick Brunson, had 14 points for the Mavericks off the bench. The connections between all these teams seem endless. 

DeAndre Jordan, traded from Dallas to New York as part of the Porzingis’ deal (with Tim Hardaway Jr.’s contract going the other way), ultimately teamed up with Durant and Irving in Brooklyn. Nets’ second-year big man Nic Claxton was selected with a second-round pick that formerly belonged to the Knicks. Steve Nash starred in Dallas, and Brooklyn was interested in Dwight Powell back in 2016 before the Mavericks secured their restricted free agent. Iman Shumpert has played for both NYC teams, as has Rick Carlisle (well New Jersey, not Brooklyn).

There’s probably a few we missed. 

Now, back to Nets’ and Knicks’ fans arguing about local TV ratings. 


The Nets are being cautious with Durant and Irving. They initially said Durant would be out at least two games, but what they really meant to say was at least two weeks. Hamstrings are a tricky injury. Back in 2015-16, Durant missed two weeks (six games) with a hamstring strain. He’s slated to be out through the All-Star break. Brooklyn has gone 7-1 in his recent absence, which has made things a lot easier to handle. 

The Nets also want their Big Three to be healthy for the playoffs. They’d prefer the trio to get game time together, but at this stage it’s better to err on the side of caution. The postseason is the only thing that matters. 


The Nets are reportedly shopping Spencer Dinwiddie, per ESPN, and that makes perfect sense. Dinwiddie isn’t ruled out for the season, but he’s recovering from an ACL injury. Plus, he’s going to a free agent (assuming he opts out, as expected). After going all-in for the Harden deal, there’s no reason not to try to acquire another player who can help them right now. Detroit is reportedly interested in Dinwiddie, according to SNY, though it seems hard to find a match there. 

Brooklyn could still use more help up front and on the wing. Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee are potential options. PJ Tucker is another. Aaron Gordon (out with an ankle injury) and John Collins would be intriguing fits, but the question is whether the Nets have the assets (Claxton?) and/or could make the money work salary-cap wise. 

Sean Marks and his front office aren’t done tweaking.

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