NEW YORK — Brook Lopez helped build the big lead and Joe Johnson stepped up when it was time to save it.
Lopez and Johnson took turns hurting the Knicks. Lopez scored 19 in the first half, and Johnson had 19 in the second half after being held without a field goal in the first two quarters.
"I thought early on Brook was dominating, just having his way, getting what he wanted out there," Nets guard Deron Williams said. "And second half I think they paid a little more attention to him and other things were open, and Joe just asserted himself."
Carmelo Anthony had 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but shot just 7 of 22 from the field and missed a potential tying 3-pointer with about 5 seconds left after coach Derek Fisher tried to signal a timeout that wasn't called. The Knicks lost their fifth straight and fell to 4-15.
"I thought that was a great look," Anthony said. "I really don't know what's the situation with timeouts being called or anything like that. But you know, I got the ball, I looked over (and) I didn't see anything or anybody call timeouts, so I kept it going. I didn't want them to get a chance to set up, switch and trap and do things like that. I had a clean, 1-on-1 shot. I missed it."
Williams finished with 19 points for the Nets, who won for just the third time in 10 games after blowing most of a 16-point, second-half lead. Lopez also had eight rebounds, and Johnson collected eight boards and six assists.
"I thought we played a lot better. A lot better tempo, a lot more aggression," Nets forward Kevin Garnett said. "Good game for us."
Jose Calderon had 19 points and seven assists for New York, and Amare Stoudemire added 17 points and nine rebounds in his third start this season.
It was a rare compelling finish in a series where lopsided matchups have been the norm. The previous five meetings had been decided by an average of 20.8 points — none by single digits.
This seemed headed that way for a while. The Knicks scored the first basket of the game but Brooklyn answered with the next 10 points and led by 11 late in the first quarter. Two 3-pointers from Williams and a pair of baskets from Johnson in an 11-2 burst midway through the third extended it to 71-55.
New York cut that to three, but Anthony's shot from behind the arc hit the back of the rim and Johnson closed it out with two free throws.
"I did try to signal for a 20-(second timeout) to get something drawn up," Fisher said. "But Carmelo taking a pullup 3 is not the worst shot we can get. Something that we would have drawn up would have included that in some way, anyway."
Nets: Garnett broke a tie with his coach last season, Jason Kidd, and moved into sole possession of sixth place on the career games played list with 1,392. Kevin Willis is fifth at 1,424. ... Lopez and Johnson tied for the highest-scoring half by a Nets player this season. Johnson had scored 17 points in both the first and second half against Detroit on Nov. 1.
Knicks: Guard J.R. Smith missed the game due to flu-like symptoms. He lasted just 5 1/2 minutes Sunday. ... Stoudemire had averaged 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the last two games before getting the start. ... New York hadn't reached 80 points in either of its last two games.
ON THE BOARDS
The Nets, who came in 23rd in the league in rebounds per game, outrebounded the Knicks 49-40 and grabbed a season-high 21 offensive boards. Garnett led the way with 13 rebounds. "Coach has been stressing rebounding," Garnett said. "It's been one of the things that obviously we've been working on, been making an emphasis for the bigs to rebound better and tonight I just did."
Nets: Host San Antonio on Wednesday.
Knicks: Host Cleveland on Thursday.
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