Can Knicks, Nets continue rise?

Since New Year's Day, teams have played better, but to what end?

Updated: January 20, 2014, 2:02 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

Carmelo Anthony, Kevin GarnettGetty ImagesIs it too late for Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett to salvage their seasons?

When the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks last met in early December, they brought into that game a combined 8-26 record. By that low standard, then, the fact that both teams have gone at least .500 over the past month and a half (Nets 11-9, Knicks 12-12) demonstrates some measure of progress as they prepare to renew acquaintances Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden on ESPN. And since Bill De Blasio took over as New York City mayor on New Year's Day, the city's two teams are a downright respectable 12-5.

Let's take a look at how and why both teams have improved in January with an eye toward what it indicates about their outlook and chances to salvage what looked like a lost season.