NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Johnson scored 25 points and the Brooklyn Nets sent the Knicks to a fourth straight loss with a 103-80 victory Monday, evening this season’s New York rivalry at a game apiece.
Making a triumphant return from London and completing a three-game, three-country road trip, the Nets improved to 7-1 in 2014 and avenged last month’s blowout loss with a romp of their own.
Andray Blatche had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Alan Anderson scored 15 points for the Nets.
Deron Williams finished with 13 points in his return from a five-game absence, coach Jason Kidd opting to bring him off the bench rather than break up a starting lineup of Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaun Livingston and Anderson that is 5-0.
Those guys weren’t needed for the fourth quarter after the Nets built a 16-point lead through three, then blew it open behind Williams, Blatche and Mirza Teletovic early in the fourth.
Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who beat the Nets 113-83 in Brooklyn but were hardly ever in this one. They lost on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the fourth straight time, the last two both at home to the Nets.
The Nets had the look of a flop in the Dec. 5 game, but they have been a different team since the new year. Johnson has been the biggest reason for their turnaround, averaging 24.5 points in the last six games.
Back in New York but not quite home, Brooklyn completed their recent journey with a 2-1 record. It started with a loss in Toronto, their only one of 2014, before a rout of Atlanta on Thursday in London.
The Knicks also appeared to be turning it around earlier this month, winning five in a row before their current skid. But they simply lack the talent to overcome the injuries they are facing now to Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, both out with sprained left ankles.
They did get back guard Pablo Prigioni after he missed 16 straight games with a broken big toe on his right foot. He started with Raymond Felton in a two point guard lineup that was successful last season, but Felton shot 2 for 11 for nine points in his second straight dreadful performance.
Prigioni missed all three shots and finished with two points and five assists.
Williams was sharper after his latest absence for ankle problems, scoring just seconds after checking into the game in the first quarter on a drive into the lane. Williams, who has missed 16 games this season, played 27 minutes.
Johnson scored 12 points in the first quarter, five during a quick 7-0 spurt that gave the Nets an 11-point lead. Another run of seven in a row extended Brooklyn’s lead to 37-21 early in the second, and it reached 18 later in the period before the Nets settled for a 52-38 halftime advantage.
NOTES: Stoudemire hosted breakfast for more than 600 Madison Square Garden employees Monday morning, the third time he has held the event to thank them for their support. … There was no noticeable reaction from fans when Kidd was announced as Nets coach during starting lineups, even though he played last season for the Knicks.