EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tiny hands and sibling squabbles: in one way or another, it’s still a rivalry.
Though the Nets playing the Knicks loses its bite when both teams are flirting with mediocrity, the ties between the two run deep. But when you’re Shane Larkin — who Knicks team president Phil Jackson once accused of having small hands — or Brook Lopez, who wouldn’t mind beating his brother Robin during Friday’s nationally televised matchup, there’s still plenty to get excited about.
“They didn’t grow at all,” joked Larkin of his hands after saying he didn’t need extra motivation against the Knicks. “I don’t need any more juice. I’ve got enough juice.”
After Larkin struggled with the triangle offense as a Knick last season, Jackson said that the point guard’s hands were too small to be effective. Larkin, though, has been one of the offensive bright spots off the bench for the Nets, and has thrived with the pick-and-roll-oriented attack. He scored 11 points with eight assists against the Suns on Tuesday, and was pivotal in the Nets’ fourth-quarter comeback against the Detroit Pistons, when he scored nine.
Friday, he said, is about extending the Nets’ win streak to three — an especially tantalizing prospect, because the Knicks are struggling, having dropped four straight before their game against the Philadelphia Sixers on Wednesday night.
“It’s just another game for us,” Larkin said, noting he hoped his knowledge of the triangle could be used to the Nets’ advantage. “It’s a crosstown rival, so they’re going to have a lot of energy, a lot of excitement going into that building . . . It’ll be fun.”
There’s no word yet on whether another ex-Knick will be able to take the court. Andrea Bargnani — who Jackson, this offseason, called “a big tease” — wasn’t available to media at practice and may not play Friday due to a left hamstring injury.
“They always have fantastic crowds, lots of animosity,” Lopez said. “They’re easy games to get up for . . . I suspect that we’ll be up, ready to go, full of energy.”
Although Lopez has faced his twin brother before, being in the same city ups the ante. Their mother, Deborah Ledford, is staying with him, Brook said, but she tries to be equitable — she’s seen two of his games, so she’ll go to two of Robin’s. Friday is a two-for-one, and she usually wears paraphernalia from both teams.
“She’s enjoying it,” Brook said. She’s yet to get a customized jersey that represents both of her boys, but “maybe for Christmas,” he said. “Loser pays for it and winner takes the credit.”