The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have been in a tug of war for supremacy of the city since the Nets arrived in Brooklyn from New Jersey in 2012. Both teams have exceeded the expectations that were set for them at the beginning of the season. The Nets are the second seed, and the Knicks are seventh in the conference.
While the Nets have been the talk of the town since acquiring star James Harden in January, the Knicks have quietly brought the excitement back to Madison Square Garden this season, even with a limited capacity crowd.
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Bullock and Randle Not Phased by Nets ‘Big 3’
Nets star Kevin Durant has been out with a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for nearly two months. Brooklyn’s head coach Steve Nash has not ruled out the possibility of Durant returning to the court on Monday when the team faces its crosstown rivals.
Knicks starters Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock were asked about being the first team to face the Nets at full strength in almost two months. That would mean Kyrie Irving, Harden and Durant, the Nets’ Big 3, back together. They did not hold back with their responses.
“We got a big 5,” Bullock said on the prospect of facing the Nets at full strength on Monday.
Knicks All-Star Julius Randle doubled down on Bullock’s comments saying, “We got a big 15.”
The Knicks who in the past have been the butt of jokes, have put a quality product on the floor this season. The emergence of Randle who will almost certainly make an All-NBA team this season has taken everybody by surprise. On the season, Randle is averaging 23.0 points,10.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.
The lack of attention the Knicks are getting does not faze them. As long as they believe in each other, that is all that matters.
“We’re not really concerned about their Big 3. We know what type of basketball we’ll be able to come into the game and play,” Bullock continued.
“We’ll focus on our team. The game plan that coach draws up. Other than that, that’s all we’re focused on. The Knicks.”
Reggie Bullock says the Knicks won't be fazed by facing the Nets' Big 3:
"We got a Big 5" pic.twitter.com/XmCVmWTb5r
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 4, 2021
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The Last Nets & Knicks Game Got Heated
The last matchup between the Nets and Knicks ended in controversy. After trailing big for most of the game the Knicks stormed back and had a chance to send the game into overtime in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
Randle tried to shoot a game-tying 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime, but Irving got his hand on the ball to prevent Randle from getting the shot up.
The correct call should have been a jump ball between Randle and Irving, but referee Scott Foster did not see Irving put his hand on the ball and instead called a travel on the Knicks’ star.
The missed call cost the Knicks the game and once the contest had ended Randle had to be restrained from going after the veteran official.
Julius Randle appeared to be upset after being called for a travel late in the Knicks’ loss to the Nets. pic.twitter.com/uacJSrReYC
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 16, 2021
After the game, even Kyrie admitted that Foster missed the call.
“I was either going to foul early but I saw him lining up for a jump shot I felt like I could get a hand on it,” Irving told reporters.
“Scott called a travel, I thought Julius made a good play afterward, putting it [the ball] down because I was going to foul him after that just to get him to the free-throw line but that’s how it went.”
Kyrie Irving describes what happened on the last play of Monday's game defending Julius Randle:
"I thought Julius made a good play afterwards putting [the ball] down" pic.twitter.com/pfmjPXiPI7
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) March 16, 2021
The stage is already being set for the latest rendition of the battle for New York to be another classic.