Nets return from London with rout of Knicks

NEW YORK (AP) - Deron Williams and the Nets’ reserves were toying with the Knicks when their fans joined in the fun, belting out a “Brook-lyn!” chant that seemed as loud as when they’re home.

“That was nice,” center Andray Blatche said with a grin.

For the Nets, Monday’s game at Madison Square Garden looked good and sounded even better.

Joe Johnson scored 25 points and the Nets sent the Knicks to a fourth straight loss with a 103-80 victory, evening this season’s New York rivalry at a game apiece.

“Obviously when we first played them, they embarrassed us,” center Kevin Garnett said. “So obviously we needed to come back and get a payback, and kind of redeem ourselves because lately we’ve been playing better basketball and today was a great job of what we’ve been doing lately.”

Making a triumphant return from London and completing a three-game, three-country road trip, the Nets improved to 7-1 in 2014 and avenged last month’s blowout loss with a romp of their own.

Blatche had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Alan Anderson scored 15 points for the Nets.

Williams finished with 13 points in his return from a five-game absence, coach Jason Kidd bringing him off the bench rather than break up a starting lineup of Johnson, Paul Pierce, Garnett, Shaun Livingston and Anderson that is 5-0.

Williams said the reserve role was his idea.

“Just because we’ve been playing so well with that lineup. Why shake things up?” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter if I come off or start.”

The starters weren’t needed for the fourth quarter after the Nets built a 16-point lead through three, then blew it open behind Williams, Blatche and Mirza Teletovic early in the fourth.

Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who beat the Nets 113-83 in Brooklyn but were hardly ever in this one. They lost on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the fourth straight time, the last two both at home to the Nets.

“It’s tough. It’s a tough situation,” Anthony said. “Like I’ve said, I never dealt with something like this before.”

The Nets had the look of a flop in the Dec. 5 game, but they have been a different team since the new year. Johnson has been the biggest reason for their turnaround, averaging 24.5 points in the last six games.

Back in New York but not quite home, Brooklyn completed their recent journey with a 2-1 record. It started with a loss in Toronto, their only one of 2014, before a rout of Atlanta on Thursday in London.

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