The New York Knicks earned what can be considered their best win of the season on Thursday, while the Brooklyn Nets absorbed what can be deemed their worst loss of the season.
Coming off those drastically different outcomes, the two intracity rivals are will get together for the second time thisseason Saturday night at Brooklyn.
The Knicks have dropped past eight meetings and 13 of the past 16, and they trailed by 16 after the opening quarter of their 112-85 loss at Brooklyn on Nov. 9. That loss was part of a 10-13 start that culminated in a 121-100 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 3.
Since then, New York is 17-10 over its past 27 games, though it has taken an extremely streaky route. Their turnaround began with an eight-game winning streak and also featured seven wins in another eight-game span, but the Knicks also produced losing streaks of five and four games.
On Thursday, the Knicks recorded their second straight victory following the four-game skid when they beat the Celtics 120-117 in overtime in Boston. The Knicks blew a 12-point lead in the final five minutes of regulation. The win occurred two nights after they blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and held on for a 105-103 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Julius Randle starred in both wins. He tied a career high with eight 3s and scored 36 points Tuesday and then led the Knicks with 37 on 13-of-25 shooting Thursday. Twelve of his 15 games with at least 30 points have come since Dec. 3.
Randle's latest big performance keyed another close win, something the Knicks have experienced with mixed results so far. They are 9-7 in games decided by five points or fewer, including a 5-2 mark this month.
"Just poise," Randle said. "We've been in those type of situations all year. So I feel like we're getting more and more comfortable in those situations."
Brooklyn is 2-6 over its past eight games after winning 14 of 15 to vault into the top four of the Eastern Conference. The Nets are in their worst slump in over two months while waiting for Kevin Durant to recover from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Last year, the Nets lost 11 straight and 15 of 21 until Durant returned from the same injury in his left knee.
On Thursday, Durant watched from the bench as the Nets took a 130-122 loss to the Detroit Pistons that marked their third straight home defeat without the star forward. After a 137-133 loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Nets allowed 43 points in the third quarter along with 50.5 percent shooting for the game to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
"There are no excuses," Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We all play the same amount of games throughout the course of the year and the schedule dictates its own self for each team.
"We gave effort in Philadelphia (on Wednesday) and the expectation is what we always talk about: It was to win this basketball game. So the people who suited up, the people who played, the people who stepped on the floor, had an opportunity to impact the basketball game for their team."
Kyrie Irving scored 40 points and is averaging 37.2 points in his past five games. Nic Claxton added a career-high 27 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double in seven games.
The Nets held out Seth Curry because of knee soreness and also lost Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren to knee injuries that could keep them out Saturday.
--Field Level Media