It was just before Christmas when the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets last met — the Knicks about a week away from retooling their roster, the Nets hovering around the .500 mark.
Since then, the intracity foes’ trajectories are drastically different. Come Tuesday night, the Knicks are chasing for a fourth straight win while the Nets attempt to avoid falling further away from .500 when the teams get together in Brooklyn.
The Knicks cruised to a 121-102 win in the last meeting Dec. 20 and have won the past three encounters with the Nets by a combined 61 points after Brooklyn won the previous nine with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roster.
The win in Brooklyn pushed New York to 16-11, but it lost four of its next five and reshaped the roster by acquiring OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley as part of a five-player deal.
Since the trade, the Knicks are 9-2 and seven of those victories are by double digits. Opponents have been held under 110 points 10 times and under 100 five times.
New York’s latest win occurred Saturday, when it followed wins over the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards by pulling away in the second half for a 126-100 home victory over the Raptors. The Knicks dominated the second half by a 67-43 margin.
Jalen Brunson scored 38 points for the Knicks and has averaged 36.3 points in three games since sitting out two games with a calf injury. He topped 30 points Saturday for the sixth time since the trade and is shooting 51.8 percent (85-for-164) over his past eight contests.
Julius Randle added 18 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists while Anunoby was a plus-20 in his 37 minutes and is a plus-190 since joining the Knicks, who were looking to improve team defense.
The Nets were flowing for about the first 42 minutes Sunday but wound up allowing the final 22 points to the Los Angeles Clippers and capped a three-game road trip by absorbing a 125-114 loss.
Brooklyn scored the game’s first 16 points, led by 18 in the third quarter and held an 11-point lead with 5:33 before going scoreless the rest of the way and getting outscored 41-15 in the final 12 minutes, when they encountered a smaller Los Angeles lineup and a switching defense.
It was a perplexing defeat, especially after a 130-112 victory on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
The epic collapse Saturday sent the Nets to their 15th loss in 19 games since Dec. 13. Brooklyn gave up at least 120 points for the ninth time in their slide.
On Jan. 15, the Nets held a 16-point lead but were outscored 65-50 after halftime and wound up with a 96-95 overtime home loss to the Miami Heat. On Wednesday, the Nets were outscored 31-20 in the fourth quarter and took a 105-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.