Nets looking for payback against Knicks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It’s been more than a month since the Knicks crushed the Nets in Brooklyn.

Other than Jason Kidd, who says he doesn’t remember the last time Brooklyn played New York, Nets players and coaches recall it clearly.

Shaun Livingston said the Nets owe the Knicks one on Monday.

“We definitely do,” the point guard said. “They came in and beat us pretty well at our place. We have to take that upon ourselves and take it personally. We’ve got to come and compete.”

The Nets didn’t do much competing the last time they saw the Knicks. The Knicks drilled the Nets 113-83. Mike Woodson’s team was red hot, burying 16 three-pointers and shooting a scorching 59.3 percent from behind the arc and 57.1 percent overall.

“They didn’t seem on fire. ... They were on fire,” Livingston said. “They hit everything. You know, guys that hadn’t been playing well were hitting shots.

"It’s going to be a big game, but we have to come out and play the same basketball that we’ve been playing. I think we’ll be fine.”

The Nets are a much different team than the one the Knicks flattened Dec. 5. They were without Deron Williams and Paul Pierce due to injuries. The loss to the Knicks was the Nets’ 12th in 15 games at that point.

“We were a different team,” Joe Johnson said. “We were depleted. We had a lot of guys who wasn’t playing. I don’t even think about it, other than we had a tough loss. But we’re a much better team right now.”

The Nets (16-22) have won six of their last seven games and are feeling much more confident. They’re playing better in almost every phase since that last encounter with the Knicks.

“I mean, looking back, those guys caught fire from behind there,” Andray Blatche said of what he remembers from that Knicks debacle. “They hit a lot of amazing shots. So, you know, we've got that in the back of our head.”

The Nets don’t have Brook Lopez like they did in early December. But Williams said he will return from a five-game absence due to his ankle injuries against the Knicks. And Pierce will play against New York as well.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Williams said of facing the Knicks. “We definitely owe these guys from the last game, and hopefully we can keep it going.”