NEW YORK — Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets are feeling a sense of satisfaction. Two wins in 24 hours will do that.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 25 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 20 to lead the Nets to a 112-104 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.
"My Sunday will be a heck of a lot better," Atkinson said. "We call it a 'Q of L' win. Quality of life win. We feel a little bit better and everything tastes a little better."
Dinwiddie scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, Allen Crabbe scored 17 points, Jarrett Allen had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Joe Harris added 11 as Brooklyn won its second straight game. The Nets improved to 10-18.
"I just love the spirit of this group," said Atkinson, whose team had lost eight straight prior to Friday night's 106-105 overtime win over Toronto.
"A great win against Toronto. Beating the Knicks on the road. It's a great job by our guys."
While the Nets were reveling in a win over their crosstown rivals, the Knicks were looking at silver linings.
Enes Kanter led the Knicks (8-19) with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Allonzo Trier had 15 points off the bench, Emmanuel Mudiay chipped in with 13 points and Damyean Dotson and Mario Hezonja each added 12 for New York, which has lost three straight and five of six.
"We went out there and fought to the end," said Frank Ntilikina. "We did a good job."
Just not as good a job as the Nets.
Brooklyn was coming off an emotional overtime win over Toronto on Friday, while the Knicks hadn't played since Thursday. In this game, it was the Nets who were the better, more in-sync squad.
The Nets used crisp passing to create open shots when they were not driving the lane for layups and drawing fouls.
Brooklyn made 48.9 per cent of its shots from the field (43 for 88) and 50 per cent of its 3s (11 for 22).
New York, meanwhile, knocked down 47 per cent of its shots (39 for 83), but missed 18 of 26 from 3-point range (30.8 per cent).
Each team shot 60 per cent from the free throw line. Brooklyn made 15 of 25 from the line, while the Knicks were 18 for 30.
The Nets led by 10 points, 56-46, at halftime and extended their lead to as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"I was searching that whole game for a lineup that could compete defensively and move the ball offensively," New York coach David Fizdale said. "We were in mud for 2 1/2 or 3 quarters of that game."
This season, the Nets haven't show the ability to close out teams, while the Knicks have fought back from deficits. Both happened in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks cut the deficit to five points, 101-96, on a layup by Ntilikina.
But on New York's next possession, Dotson missed a driving reverse layup, and on the counterattack Hollis-Jefferson was awarded a basket as Mitchell Robinson was called for defensive goaltending. Immediately after that sequence, Ntilikina missed a 3, and Crabbe countered with a basket from behind the arc that pushed the advantage to 10 points, 106-96.
"All that hard work we were putting in during the (losing) streak is finally paying off," Allen said.
Still, the Knicks hung in. After Dinwiddie dropped in a layup that extended Brooklyn's lead to 110-98 with 2:16 left, New York scored the next six points and closed within six, 110-104.
"The young guys played well," Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. "They did a great job of getting us back into the fight and making it a ball game. They didn't stop. They didn't quit. That's the idea Fiz is trying to build here and they showed it."
Dinwiddie's driving dunk following a timeout put the game away.
"Staying locked in and staying focused was something big for us," Hollis-Jefferson said.
Nets: During his pregame availability, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said injured guard Caris LaVert is "in the gym, shooting," but did not offer much else in terms of an update. LaVert has missed 14 straight games with a right foot subtalar dislocation, suffered in the Nets' 120-113 loss to the Timberwolves in Minnesota. ... Allen fouled out with 2:04 left.
Knicks: The matchup was the second game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Seton Hall upset Kentucky, 84-83, in overtime in a men's college basketball game. The hoops-heavy weekend will conclude Sunday with a tripleheader. The Garden will host the annual Holiday Festival which showcases local colleges in two games, then the Knicks will host Charlotte. . After not playing in New York's last three games, Ntilikina got into the game with 3:31 left in the third quarter. Ntilikina finished with seven points in 15 minutes.
Prior to the game, New York coach David Fizdale and Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson spoke at length about the future for their respective franchises.
While the teams have generally been competitive this season, Fizdale and Atkinson talked about player development and this summer's free agent marketplace as being key to the franchises. The Knicks and Nets are in the midst of rebuilding projects, and the franchises are expected to be active in the upcoming free agent market. New York only has $57.3 million allotted to eight players for next season, and Brooklyn has $43.7 million earmarked in player salaries.
"Trying to develop youth," Fizdale said. "And hopefully attract some free agents this summer."
Arguably the biggest difference between the teams is that the Knicks have a foundational piece in injured forward Kristaps Porzingis, the kind of player the Nets do not have. Yet Atkinson was adamant that the Nets should be focused on sustained improvement.
Brooklyn won 20 games in his first season, and 28 games last year. He declined to put a numerical value on what would constitute improvement this season.
"I'm not going to pick a number. I know it's better than 28 (wins). I know that I'm not going to start picking numbers, Atkinson said. "We're looking to take another step forward. How big that jump will be, we'll see at the end of the season."
Nets: Travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host Charlotte on Sunday night.
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