The grand plan with the Game of the Night is pretty simple — learn something from watching a game, then pass it on to you. So here’s what we learned watching the Knicks and Nets do battle for the hearts and souls of New York (okay, not really):
The Nets are not very good without Devin Harris.
Not earth shattering, but that’s the reality of this game. Midway through the third quarter Kris Humphries went up to block a Wilson Chandler layup and came down on Devin Harris, injuring Harris’ knee.
Harris was done for the night (and maybe longer, an MRI Wednesday will determine) and almost instantly the Knicks went on a 10-1 run and from there the game was basically over. The Nets couldn’t come back, they needed Harris to make that happen. The final was 111-110 Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 35.
The Knicks are now 10-9, by the way — over .500.
The Nets were in this one until the injury because they had simple and effective plan — use Brook Lopez to pound the smaller and softer Knicks front line. Lopez had 15 of the 28 first quarter points for the Nets. Lopez finished with 36, one off his personal best ever. Timofey Mozgov may learn to defend in the NBA, it’s a hard adjustment, but right now he is simply a foul sponge. The man soaks up fouls at the fastest rate in the NBA. Literally.
The one thing we really did learn is that Wilson Chandler may be more key to the Knicks attack than most people realize. The Mike D’Antoni system needs shooters and Chandler is becoming that guy — 61 percent of his shots come off an assist now (a career high) and he is taking more threes than ever (and hitting one third of them, also a career high). He’s the third leading scorer on a team that needs scorers. He’s become crucial.
One other little thing — Raymond Felton has made the little shotput floater in the lane one of his real weapons. He’s got it down now.