NEW YORK -- New York Knicks players Jason Smith and Cleanthony Early gave the Nets some potential bulletin-board material when they said they hoped to "mess up" Brooklyn's chances of making the playoffs.
It doesn't seem like the Nets care much, however.
"That’s cool. That's what they're supposed to say," Jarrett Jack said. "With us, we're focused on us. We still have something left to play for the rest of the season. We don't need any added motivation. If you do at this point in the season, then I'm really worried about you."
Brooklyn enters Wednesday night's game against 60-loss New York playing its best basketball of the season. On Tuesday night, the Nets finally secured their first four-game winning streak of the season, beating the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers 111-106 at Barclays Center.
"We can't overlook anybody," Joe Johnson said. "Each and every game is valuable for us -- and we know it. Hopefully, we can go to Manhattan and get ourselves a win."
The Nets (33-40) have won eight of 10 and moved back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are just a half-game behind the Miami Heat (34-40) for seventh.
"We're more together," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "We care more about each other. When you have adversity, you just pull together and keep fighting."
The Nets built a 19-point lead only to squander it by giving up 39 points in the second quarter. In the past, they probably would've squandered the game, too. This time, however, they didn't.
Brook Lopez (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Deron Williams (11 points, eight assists, six rebounds) played a terrific two-man game early, and closer Johnson (21 points) hit a pair of clutch shots late. Alan Anderson (20 points) had a nice performance himself.
The Nets, who shot a solid 50 percent from the field, have not had double-digit turnovers in their past six games.
During their recent turnaround, they've taken care of the teams they've needed to take care of: Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers. A victory over the Knicks would give them a tanking sweep.
"We're fighting for our postseason lives, and guys are coming out and making the most of it," Jack said.