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Knicks & Nets Jockey for Final Seeding, Yanks & Mets Explode, Islanders Build Streak, Rangers Seek Revenge

LongIsland.com

Despite a few losses along the way, all of New York’s teams have entered the weekend on a high note.

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Nets Heating Up

The Nets ended last week with a game against Charlotte which probably took more effort than they had anticipated, but they got the win and spent this week building upon it.

First up were the 76ers, who Brooklyn handled with ease. The Nets were already up 23-17 in the first quarter when Brook Lopez kicked off a 7-0 run which would lead to a 31-18 spread before the second. The team added another 5 points to their lead before halftime, and 4 more in the third. They beat Philadelphia soundly, ending on a final score of 104-83.

Lopez led the team with a double-double through 29 points and 11 rebounds, joined by Reggie Evans’ 17 point and 24 rebound double-double. Johnson, Williams, and Brooks each contributed 11 points as well.

Wednesday’s game in Boston was a bit closer, but the Nets still held a commanding lead for most of the second half. Brooklyn came out of the first period up by 1, then went to work building a ten point lead in the second. They would stay ahead by double digits for much of the night, ending in a 101-93 win.

Deron Williams had a game-leading double-double with 29 points and 12 assists, while Lopez and Joe Johnson shot for 21 and 20 respectively.

The first half proved vital once again last night when the Nets ran up against the team directly ahead of them in the NBA’s Eastern conference. After coming out of the first quarter up by 7 Brooklyn saw its lead over Indiana drop back down to 3 midway through the second, but the team rallied to enter halftime up 69-50.

Their lead would grow to 24 in the third before the Pacers cut into it with a 29-9 run, but they could not build on the momentum enough to prevent the Nets from holding on to win 117-109.

Williams paved the way to victory again with another double-double, this time racking up 33 points and 14 assists. Lopez and Johnson both contributed 24 points, while Jackson and Watson scored 13 and 10 respectively from the bench.

With that win the Nets have swept the season series with the Pacers and hold the tiebreaker over them should they end the year with the same record. Brooklyn is now only two games behind Indiana and finishes the last week of the regular season with three sub-.400 teams, while the Pacers will have to face both the Knicks and Celtics.

The Nets will begin trying to extend their current four-game winning streak to seven in an effort to capture the #3 seed tomorrow afternoon, when they play the Raptors at 3:30 PM.

 

The Knicks’ Streak Comes to an End

The Knicks clinched the Atlantic Division title and extended their winning streak to 13 when they pummeled the Wizards on Tuesday.

New York sunk 9 three-pointers in the first quarter alone to go up 36-23 and establish a lead which would never be placed in any real jeopardy. They went on to tie the franchise record of 20 threes in a single game as they routed Washington 120-99.

Carmelo Anthony led the team with 36 points, followed by Shumpert’s 18. JR Smith and Chris Copeland led the bench with 17 points each, and Novak and Felton contributed 12 and 10 respectively.

The Knicks tried to extend their streak to 14 on Thursday against the Chicago team which put a stop to Miami’s 27 game tear through the league two weeks ago. New York was in total control through the first six minutes as they established a 23-6 lead, but the Bulls battled back to cut the difference down to 7 by quarter’s end.

Chicago slowly clawed its way back into the game, outscoring the Knicks by 2 in the second quarter, 3 in the third, and 2 in the fourth. They actually led by as many as 9 points in the final quarter of regulation, but the Knicks came back from the deficit and forced overtime on a pair of free throws by Carmelo with under 15 seconds left.

Unfortunately, the Knicks were entirely outdone in the OT period; Chicago outscored them 13-6 and ended the late-season win streak by handing them a 118-111 defeat.

Anthony had a game-high 36 points and 19 rebounds in the loss, followed by JR Smith’s 28 and 14. Felton contributed 19 points and Copeland shot for 14.

The Knicks rebounded against a much less challenging opponent last night, steadily building an increasing lead over the Cavaliers throughout the game. New York outscored Cleveland by 3 in the first, 6 in the second, and 2 in the third quarter as they cruised to a 101-91 win.

Melo and Smith both put up 31 points in the win, though Anthony was a bit more impressive as he posted a double-double courtesy of 14 rebounds. Copeland added 12 points to the tally and Shumpert had a career-high 11 rebounds.

New York will try to cement its position as the #2 seed and lend Brooklyn a helping hand in trying to move up to #3 when they face the Pacers at 3:30 PM tomorrow.

 

Yankees

The Yankees followed an 11-6 win over the Indians in the series opener with an even more decisive victory on Tuesday.

The Bronx Bombers once again lived up to their nickname as they hammered in 14 runs en route to a 14-1 win. Ichiro, Cano, Youkilis, Overbay, and Boesch each contributed a homerun over the course of the game.

Andy Pettitte picked up his second win as he pitched 7 innings of one-run ball. His counterpart in the opposite dugout, Carlos Carrasco, was ejected in the fourth inning on a controversial call after he plunked Youkilis immediately after giving up a two-run homer to Cano.

The Indians may have been grateful for the break offered by two straight rainouts after being put down by a combined score of 25-7 in the first two of what was supposed to be a four game series, but the Yankees were likely less pleased by the chance to cool off.

The Yanks returned home last night with their ace on the mound to face the Orioles. After Sabathia gave up a run in the top of the third Youkilis made right up for the temporary deficit with an RBI single that drove in Bret Gardner. Cano added an RBI single to bring Cervelli home and give New York a 2-1 lead two innings later.

The game was tied again when Baltimore got to CC for a second run in the seventh inning, but an error in the bottom would cost them dearly. Adam Jones dropped a fly ball off the bat of Vernon Wells, allowing Cervelli, Youkilis, and Hafner to score.

Evidently scoring 3 runs on an error was not enough of a statement for the Yanks, as they responded further with a memorable fielding play of their own in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second, Manny Machado grounded into what would prove the first ever 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in Major League Baseball history.

New York won by a final of 5-2 as Sabathia picked up his second win having pitched 8 innings and allowed 2 runs. Mariano Rivera got his second save to close out the game.

With that win the Yankees are over .500 for the first time this season. They will try to further distance themselves from a losing record when they play the Orioles again at 4:05 this afternoon.

 

The Mets

After winning the first game against their long-time division rivals, the Mets dropped two in a row against the Phillies.

Philadelphia rocked Dillon Gee for 4 runs in the second inning and 3 in the third on Tuesday, forcing New York to pull him from the game at the start of the fourth inning. The Mets would never recover, losing by a final of 8-3.

Wednesday’s game went down a similar path, with the Phillies exerting their power even earlier in the bout.  Jeremy Hefner gave up 5 runs in just the first inning and was subsequently pulled from the game in the fourth after he was pinch-hit for in the third. The tactic accomplished little, as the Mets went down 7-3.

After being thoroughly trounced in the early going two games in a row, the Mets came into last night’s game against the Twins ready to explode, and explode they did.

A Valdespin single, Murphy double, Wright double, Davis walk, and Byrd single all contributed to a 5 run first inning, this time in New York’s favor. The hits kept coming in the second, when after Wright picked up an RBI single John Buck powered in a grand slam to left field, giving the Mets a 10-2 lead.

The Mets would put up another 4 runs in the seventh and two more for good measure as they defeated the Twins 16-5. Niese got his second win in the rout.

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 4:10 PM today.

 

Islanders

The Islanders trailed Philadelphia by 1 for much of the first in Tuesday’s game, but Moulson tied the game with a little over 4 minutes to go in the period.

Grabner put New York on top with a goal late in the second, and Tavares struck the killing blow with under two minutes left in the game. The Flyers took their goalie off the ice to try to salvage the night, but all it accomplished was to create an opportunity for Cizikas to knock in an empty netter and give the Islanders a 4-1 win. Nabokov stopped 26 shots on the night.

The team road its success into Boston on Thursday, where Bailey gave them a 1-0 lead 19:39 into the first. The Bruins responded with an early second period goal, but Bailey put the Islanders back on top ten minutes later.

No one else would score another goal as Nabokov stopped 30 of 31 shots and New York took a 2-1 win over a quality opponent.

The victory gives the Islanders a 3 game win streak as they ready to host the Rangers (whom they have now supplanted for the 7th seed in the East)  for the last time this season. That game will be played at 7:00 PM today.

 

Rangers

After losing by a goal to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, the Rangers were hungry for a win when they brought their opponents home with them the next day.

A scoreless first period did neither team any favors, but Toronto took a 1-0 lead early in the second. Hagelin responded with a goal to tie things up halfway into the period, and McDonagh put the Rangers up 2-1 several minutes later.

The third period saw the Maple Leafs tie things up once more, forcing overtime and an eventual shootout. Zuccarello was the only player to score, doing so in the second round and giving New York the win.

The Rangers will try to take back the 7th seed in the NHL East from the Islanders when they meet at 7 o’clock tonight.