Knicks grab momentum in fourth quarter and run away from Nets for 105-93 victory

NEW YORK — Kevin Ollie knows that strange things can happen at Madison Square Garden. His experiences as a player and coach for UConn taught him that. Anything is possible inside that arena with enough momentum.

While the Nets entered Saturday’s matchup against the Knicks as losers of five straight games, Ollie said his fond memories of MSG gave him some extra juice entering the day. Returning to the venue for the first time as an NBA head coach, he was hoping Brooklyn could conjure some magic despite their recent skid and pull off an upset against the No. 5 team in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau wanted to ensure that their struggling inner-borough rivals stayed in their place.

There were some magical moments for the Nets on Saturday afternoon, like when Mikal Bridges hit a 62-footer to give them a 57-56 advantage at halftime, or when Cam Thomas beat the third-quarter buzzer from deep to cut their deficit to three entering the final frame.

But ultimately the result was the same.

In the end, the Knicks snatched all momentum in the final frame while Brooklyn once again flatlined at both ends of the court down the stretch. The Knicks, who won their 42nd game of the season, 105-93, went 10 of 20 from the field in the fourth quarter and outscored Brooklyn 25-16.

“In the fourth quarter they hit a couple of shots and we didn’t hit shots,” Ollie said. “I mean, we just didn’t hit them and we turned the ball over. And then when they miss shots they get second-chance rebounds. That’s deflating when you have good defensive possessions and they get another shot, that’s deflating.

“I’m fine if we lose if we’re competitive — I’m fine with that. I’m just not fine when we lose on these small little detail things that we can control.”

The Nets, who have now lost a season-worst six consecutive games, went 5 of 18 in the final frame and committed four turnovers. Donte DiVincenzo scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the final frame.

“We have to stay competitive,” Ollie said. “We have to double down on the small things. We don’t have the depth. … We don’t have, I’m not going to say the talent, but we don’t have superstars, we don’t have that. So we have to be a collective unit. We have to play together. We have to do everything together.”

Ollie cleared his bench with two minutes left after Brooklyn fell behind by 18 points. The Nets (26-45) are now five games behind the Atlanta Hawks for 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 11 games left. The Knicks are tied with the Orlando Magic for fourth place.

Bridges led just three Nets players in double figures with 18 points, four rebounds and five assists. Miles “Deuce” McBride complimented DiVincenzo’s big game with 26 points of his own and six 3-pointers.

“Yeah, we needed it,” Thibodeau said of DiVincenzo and McBride. “I think both guys hit timely buckets. Deuce was terrific defensively because he was chasing [Cam] Thomas around and Thomas is a load to deal with. And Dante, that may have been his best game, just timely baskets, big, big plays, awesome plays defensively.”

Nets-Knicks is supposed to be a rivalry game, but this season it has been far from one. Brooklyn is 0-3 against them this season and has lost two of the three matchups by double figures.

The two teams will meet for the final time this season on April 12 at The Garden.

“I love the mental toughness of our team, the ability to persevere through things when things aren’t going our way,” Thibodeau said. “Just keep going and make it go our way. And then in the end, find a way to win. Whatever it is that we have to do, that’s what we have to do.”