NEW YORK -- Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is everything the Nets want but can’t have -- a 20-year-old with superstar potential who stands 7-foot-3 and has given the long-beleaguered and previously incompetent New York franchise new life.
Brooklyn, which continues to fade deeper and deeper into oblivion by the day -- its local ratings and attendance plummeting -- was embarrassed by Porzingis and the Knicks in its first and only national TV game of the season Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Nets, who dropped to 1-11 on the road, trailed by as many as 31 in an eventual 108-91 loss.
Porzingis, selected by New York with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft after a year of tanking, finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while hitting three of the Knicks’ 12 3-pointers.
“Well, that was a nightmare,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “I guess everyone can quit talking about rivalries. We didn’t come ready to compete early, and they jumped on us and knocked us out.”
The Nets (5-14) surrendered 42 points and seven 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. A terrible 3-point shooting and defensive team, Brooklyn was outscored 36-9 from beyond the arc.
“We stunk it up in the first quarter and it just carried over to the rest of the game,” said Joe Johnson, who received his first career ejection after elbowing Jose Calderon when Johnson was trapped in the corner early in the fourth quarter.
Johnson, who doesn’t have a history of being a dirty player, said the elbow was inadvertent, although the officials felt otherwise.
Regardless, it was an inexcusable performance by the Nets, who had won two straight and were starting to feel good about themselves.
But it didn’t take long for reality to set in again, and the reality is that Brooklyn’s future is bleak.
Who is going to save this team? And where is he going to come from?
Maybe Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who along with right-hand man Dmitry Razumov and general manager Billy King combined to deal 11 first-round picks (including Derrick Favors and swaps) in a failed attempt to win now, can provide some answers.
Prokhorov, on the verge of finalizing an ownership consolidation that will give him 100 percent control of both the team and the arena, is coming into the city and expected to attend two home games while he’s here.
But without total control over a first-round pick until 2019, what are the Nets going to do? And what exactly is King, who is in the final year of his contract, allowed to do? If Brooklyn is going to build around Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, what other great, tradable assets do they have to make a move?
Is free agency really going to save them?
Pondering all of this is a painful but necessary exercise.
Meanwhile, the hated Knicks have Porzingis. And on Friday night, he looked as advertised.
The Knicks are relevant and have hope. The Nets are irrelevant and desperately trying to find some hope.
Oh, and by the way, Brooklyn faces defending champion/undefeated Golden State on Sunday night.
Nightmare? You bet it is.