(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York NBA rivalry returns Wednesday night, although lacking some sizzle, when the Brooklyn Nets visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The Nets are 8-2 in their last 10 and have taken over the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn leads the Boston Celtics by a half-game and is 1 1/2 games clear of the Indiana Pacers.
The Knicks are battling for ping-pong balls. They own the worst record in the NBA by two games over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team with the worst mark gets the most chances at the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The Nets have won four straight and six of their last seven.
On Tuesday, Brooklyn handled one of its main competitors, the Pacers, 111-106.
Brook Lopez, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, had 24 points. Lopez, who scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half, added 11 rebounds.
Joe Johnson scored 21, followed by Alan Anderson, who had 20 points off the bench. Jarrett Jack scored 13 points and Deron Williams had 11 points and eight assists in the win.
"I just thought we played smart and we played fairly disciplined," said Nets coach Lionel Hollins.
The Nets, after leading by as many as 19 points in the first half, took an 84-79 edge into the fourth quarter and remained in front the rest of the way. It wasn't a safe lead until Johnson buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to make it 108-100 with 15.4 seconds left.
The Knicks have lost seven in a row and went 2-14 in the month of March. New York has dropped four straight at Madison Square Garden, where it plays four of its next five.
On Saturday, the Knicks lost their 60th game for the first time in franchise history with a 111-80 drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
The Knicks history dates back 69 years and the losses could pile up since there are seven games left on the docket.
"It's difficult, especially with the thoughts we had going into the season, wanting to be in the playoffs," Cole Aldrich told the New York Post. "It's about not giving up now. We still have basketball to play."
Andrea Bargnani scored 14 points for New York. Langston Galloway added 12 points and Ricky Ledo had 11. No other Knicks player scored in double figures for a team which shot 23.5 percent from long range.
The Nets have won all three meetings this season and three of their previous four stops to MSG. The Nets haven't swept a season series since the 2006-07 campaign.