The Nets Draw First Blood
The atmosphere at 620 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn was nothing like anyone had seen before. The Nets were cheered in their home arena, Knicks fans were drowned out, and Carmelo Anthony was showered in boos just 3 miles from where he was born. It wasn’t something unique and isolated in history; rather, something new.
A rivalry? Deron Williams tried to downplay the hype. “It’s one game, it was a good win for us…we can’t just be excited like we just won a championship. We didn’t win the championship of New York.”
“I guess you could say this was the start of something,” said Carmelo Anthony. He, too, was reluctant to portray the opposition as equals. For a true rivalry features two teams on the same level. It’s fair to say that’s the case between Brooklyn and New York; a star player; a dominant big-man; veteran presence; a rising shooting guard. Monday night displayed the leveled playing field that’s now a product of the Knicks-Nets meeting.
The Nets had to win this one at home. “Taking care of home court is the most important thing,” noted Joe Johnson. Brooklyn came out of the gate up to the task, hanging with the 9-3 Knicks for the duration of regulation. When both teams traded missed game-winners, the Nets surged ahead. Fans were able to see what the absence of Gerald Wallace had done to the squad’s play, as he attacked the rim time and time again, frustrating Carmelo Anthony to the point where he threw an elbow in the final minute of the game. Maybe this was why the man was paid so much.
It didn’t stop there though, as Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans were ferocious down low, creating problems for the Knicks in the extra session. And when the Knicks started to pressure Brooklyn in the paint, Jerry Stackhouse let it rain from three.
“Stackhouse…what more can I say…every three was at the right time,” Coach Avery Johnson said postgame. “I knew he was going to be ready, not this ready though.”
The thrilling nature of the game will only fuel the rivalry more. Every rivalry has to start somewhere, and there was no setting more perfect than the Barclays Center. The “Brook-lyn” chants were in full-effect, all the stars were out, and the team showed up. They managed 96 points against a defensive-minded Knicks squad, and that’s despite the fact Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 24 points. Once those two begin to score like they can, and the Knicks get healthy, we’re going to see some games for the ages.
Brooklyn’s locker room was full of smiles and relief, the Knicks’ full of gloom and disappointment. It was truly a rivalry game. You can only imagine what it’ll be like the next three times these two sides meet in the regular season – and don’t rule out the playoffs, either.