It’s a name that has tormented Knicks fans for years: Reggie.
First, there was Reggie Miller, who repeatedly eviscerated the Knicks and cemented the squad’s reputation as a team famous for letting it all slip away when he mimed choking in front of Brooklyn icon (but for some reason an unrepentant Knicks fan) Spike Lee.
Today, there’s a new Reggie that Knicks fans, Spike included, should fear: Reggie Evans.
In Monday’s first ever match-up as inner city rivals, Evans recorded 14 rebounds — six of them offensive — in just 18 minutes of action against the Knicks, increasing his league-leading rebounds per 48 minutes to a gaudy 22.1. That’s more than two rebounds per game higher than the league’s second best.
His offensive rebounds play exactly to his team’s strengths by racking up long possession after long possession and wearing down opponents on the defensive end — a strategy that clearly worked against the Knicks.
He’s a spark plug off the bench who brings energy and fires up his teammates and fans alike — and with a few more strong performances he’ll become known as a real threat, not just as the first player in NBA history to be fined for flopping.
But it wasn’t just Evans who pushed the Nets passed the Knicks in the bout, which was originally scheduled to christen the Barclays Center, but was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.
The Nets front court performed equally admirably against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler with Brook Lopez continuing his plodding, yet highly effective, All-Star campaign with 22 points and 11 boards.
Even the Nets guards used their size to their advantage, often posting up the much smaller Knicks defenders.
The Nets win shows the team is executing coach Avery Johnson’s plan: they are working the ball inside first, then out to the perimeter to get good looks on most possessions. If Evans and Lopez can continue to dominate the way they dominated the Knicks, New York could certainly be, as Jay-Z tweeted, “under new management.”
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.