The Knicks reached a new low point last night in a defeat so stunning, it left coach Mike D'Antoni talking about wanting to "get the year over with."
The Nets, trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in NBA history, overcame a 16-point first-quarter deficit and won going away at the Garden, 113-93.
"It is as bad as it can get," D'Antoni said.
There was much booing as it ended. And much disbelief. And much fear that the final 20 games of the Knicks' season could spiral completely out of control.
"We've got to do a better job, and I've got to do a better job and somehow get these guys together and play well and get the year over with and go on to other factors," D'Antoni said. "It's tough for everybody right now and we're searching and obviously we don't have the answer now."
It was the Nets' seventh win against 55 defeats. The all-time mark for NBA futility is the 9-73 record of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.
The Knicks have done their part to help the Nets in their bid to avoid that ignominy. It was the second time in four meetings that the Nets have beaten their cross-river rivals. The first came Dec. 30 at the Izod Center.
The difference was three-point shooting. The Nets were 14-for-24, including one with nine seconds left by Devin Harris for the final margin. The Knicks missed all 18 of their attempts - the most three-point attempts without a make in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The last time the Knicks did not make a three-pointer was March 29, 2006, when they were 0-for-6 in a loss to the Celtics.
The Nets' biggest lead was 20, the first time they have led by that many all season. They set a season high in points.
The Knicks had sought to avoid becoming the second team to fall twice to the Nets. The Bobcats also lost to them twice; the other one-time losers are the Bulls, Clippers and Celtics.
The Knicks came out looking as if a blowout was in the cards, taking a 24-8 lead less than eight minutes into the game. But the lead was down to 10 by the end of the first quarter and disappeared in the second. Lopez and Harris each scored nine in the quarter.
The Knicks were out of sync with Lee and Danilo Gallinari both on the bench with three fouls. D'Antoni was forced to go nine-deep with his first-half rotation as Jonathan Bender was dusted off for 3:33 of action.
The Nets took their first lead at 43-42 when Lopez hit a bank shot at 4:51, bringing the first boos from the crowd.
The Nets went into the fourth quarter with an 83-74 lead. The Knicks closed to within five early in the quarter, but an 8-0 run capped by Courtney Lee's three-pointer left the Knicks down 13 with 8:46 to go.
"You feel bad losing anyway," Chandler said. "But losing to a team that has six wins - it hurts.''