A year ago, Knicks fans were hoping Kyrie Irving would be part of a free agency coup that would turn the franchise around. Today marks their first chance to see him since his decision to sign with the cross-town Nets, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Irving was sidelined with an injury during Brooklyn’s first trip to Madison Square Garden, and players expect a raucous setting for today’s game.
“The atmosphere has been crazy this whole week, so no question, it’s going to be a super-ecstatic atmosphere,” Taj Gibson said. “Hopefully we can match the same intensity and pull out a tough one.”
Even though Irving missed 27 games with a shoulder impingement, the Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, while the Knicks are headed for the lottery again. Irving’s 45-point outburst in last night’s win at Detroit is the latest reminder that he’s the type of impact player New York still doesn’t have.
There’s more this morning out of Brooklyn:
- Coach Kenny Atkinson juggled his lineup against the Pistons, helping the Nets break a five-game losing streak, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Defensive specialist Garrett Temple started in the backcourt next to Irving as Spencer Dinwiddie was used off the bench for the first time in more than two months. “I always talk to the coaches about it, but it was a little bit of a hunch. I thought we needed to shuffle some things up,” Atkinson said. “It had nothing to do with Spencer’s play, absolutely nothing. It was more can we get Spencer in that ballhandling role a little bit more, because we all know that’s where he’s great.”
- Dinwiddie tells Matt Schoch of The Detroit News that it’s no longer a big deal to play against the Pistons, who drafted him in 2014 but traded him to the Bulls after two seasons. “Honestly, I would rather see Wilson (Chandler) go out there and go get 40 because he’s from here,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a bigger game for him than anyone else.”
- Jared Dudley wanted to stay with the Nets, but got tired of waiting for the team to make a commitment, relays Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily. He wound up signing a one-year deal with the Lakers. “When I’m looking at how it’s going and all the guys are coming off the board, watching Jeff Green go to Utah and when I saw (Anthony) Tolliver signed with Portland, I was supposed to sign before Tolliver, there’s usually a pecking order,” Dudley recalled. “When I saw that, that’s when I started making my phone calls. Once LA offered me, Brooklyn offered, but by that time my mind was already — once LeBron (James) and (Anthony Davis) signed off on it — there was no turning back.”