In a Nets season that has been defined by controversy, reasons for hope have been difficult to find.
Two were easily spotted Wednesday, though. A pair of Nets guards coming off major surgeries represented the far superior backcourt during the Nets’ 112-85, destruction of the Knicks at Barclays Center.
In a game that featured Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett for the Knicks, the Nets’ Edmond Sumner and Seth Curry were the biggest backcourt difference-makers, combining for 41 points.
Sumner, filling in as starting point guard for the suspended Kyrie Irving, ripped off nine points on 3-of-4 shooting in the first seven minutes of the game, in which the Nets built a 24-8 edge. Sumner hounded Brunson full court, as a pest whose wings (or maybe Achilles) have begun growing back.
An under-the-radar signing in July (all Nets signings were under the radar after Kevin Durant requested a trade), Sumner did not play a game last season due to a torn Achilles tendon. He said he still faces mental hurdles in allowing himself to go full pace.
Those hurdles were not visible as he smothered Brunson into a 4-for-14 performance durng which the Knicks point guard was a minus-22. Barrett, meanwhile, went 5-for-14 for 16 empty points.
“He’ll continue to do that, set the tone,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said of the 26-year-old Sumner. “He just makes a difference. He’s engaged, he gets the rest of the group engaged.”
As Sumner rested during much of the second half, Curry ensured the Knicks never made it a game. Curry added three fourth-quarter 3-pointers — finishing 7-for-13 from the field and 6-for-11 from beyond the arc — on a breakout, 23-point night.
Entering Wednesday, Curry had scored four points in three games. The sharpshooter underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in May and is coming along slowly.
“I haven’t really played basketball in five months,” said Curry, who added he exceeded his minutes allotment in staying on the court for 23:24. “Knew it was going to take some time.”
The brother of Stephen Curry has not played back-to-backs and cautioned he is still testing his ankle.
“I still got a long ways to go physically, I’m still working my way back,” said Curry, who also is getting more time while Irving serves his suspension. “Just trying to keep a good mindset of work every day and come to the game bringing energy no matter what. I’m going to make shots, like I said, eventually.”
They began falling against the Knicks.