WHAT IT MEANS: It depends on the extent of Devin Harris’ leg injury. If Harris can bounce back quickly form the knee injury he suffered in the third quarter of the Nets’ 111-100 loss to the Knicks, the Nets will have dodged a bullet.
Harris will undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning to determine the exact extent of the injury.
Harris landed awkwardly on the back of his left leg and appeared to roll his ankle while trying to block Wilson Chandler’s fast-break lay-up with 6:20 to go in the third quarter. Making matters worse, Kris Humphries landed on Harris, who walked off the floor and did not return.
Harris is the glue for this young Nets team, which quickly fell apart after he left the floor. Based on what they showed you in the third quarter against the Knicks, it doesn’t look like the Nets can survive with Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow in the backcourt for an extended period of time. The Nets were outscored 14-5 with Farmar and Morrow in the backcourt, before Avery Johnson pulled Morrow for not hustling after a loose ball.
TURNING POINT: Harris left the game with an injured left knee with 6:20 to go in the third quarter. At the time, the Knicks were ahead, 67-65. By the end of the quarter, they had a 15-point lead and all but wrapped up Round 1 of the Hudson River Rivalry. With Harris out, Farmar and Morrow struggled to get any rhythm on the offensive end and Raymond Felton thrived, scoring six points and handing out two assists as the Knicks went up, 88-73 at the end of the third.
STAR OF THE GAME: Brook Lopez had 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half and seemed to be on his way to a monster game. Even though he was slowed a bit when Harris when out, Lopez finished with a season-high 36 points but had just five boards. Amare Stoudemire abused the Nets inside to the tune of 35 points and nine rebounds and the Knicks scored 60 points in the paint.
MURPHY SIGHTING: There was a Troy Murphy sighting for the second straight night. Murphy played 16:53, finishing 0-for-4 with five rebounds and two turnovers on Tuesday night.
He also had a traveling violation in the middle of a 16-5 Knicks run in the third quarter.
Murphy, whom the Nets acquired in a trade over the summer, was in uniform for the first time since Nov. 15 against the Blazers on Sunday.
He had four points, three assists and one rebound in ten minutes in the first half.
The Nets originally penciled in Murphy as their starting power forward, but he had fallen out of favor with the emergence of rookie Derrick Favors and veteran Kris Humphries at the ‘4’ spot.
Murphy missed training camp and the first three regular season games with a back injury.
WHAT RIVALRY? PART II: Both Johnson and Mike D’Antoni said that Knicks-Nets won’t be a true rivalry until both teams start winning. Rehashing comments he made during the morning shootaround, Johnson said before the game that he doesn’t buy into the Battle of the Hudson, yet.
“I kind of laugh at that,” the Nets first-year coach said when asked about the rivalry. “I’ve been in rivalries before. Maybe if these two teams become perennial playoff contenders and meet up in the playoffs then somebody goes home with the agony of defeat and somebody with the thrill of victory.
“But until that happens we’re both teams that are just trying to climb.”
NETS CEO SAYS BILLBOARD RIVALRY HELPS BOTH TEAMS: Nets CEO Brett Yormark doesn’t really see the turf war between the Knicks and Nets as a rivalry between the two teams’ front offices. He thinks the back-and-forth between the two clubs – which started when the Nets put up a billboard featuring Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov in close proximity to the Garden and continued when the Knicks took out a radio ad tweaking the Nets, prompting a response Tuesday morning from Prokhorov – is good for both teams.
And in response to the Knicks billboards featuring Stoudemire near the site of the Barclays Center, the Nets arena in Brooklyn, Yormark said, “They’re helping our cause as it relates to when we get to Brooklyn in 2012.”
WHAT’S NEXT: New Jersey takes on the Oklahoma City Thunder, which have won seven of their last nine. The Thunder, a team with great young pieces surrounded by one of the top players in the league in Kevin Durant, will be a tough matchup for the Nets without Harris.
It would behoove the Nets to get off to a fast start because the Thunder are 10-2 when leading after the first, including a 5-0 mark on the road. The Oklahoma game starts a five-game stretch where the Nets play one day and are off the next, so they don’t have to worry about Johnson calling a shootaround before the second game of a back-to-back.