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Nets take Brooklyn matchup with Knicks

11/26/2012 10:31 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Deron Williams scored 16 points and added 14 rebounds in the Nets' win Monday night.(AP)
The first Battle of the Boroughs is in the books, and the early bragging rights belong to Brooklyn.

Brook Lopez and Deron Williams both had double-doubles, with Lopez notching 22 points and 11 rebounds and Williams adding had 16 points and 14 assists, as the Nets held off the Knicks, 96-89, in an overtime thriller at Barclays Center on Monday night.

While those two led the way, it was a total team effort for the Nets. Gerald Wallace has a season-high 16 points, Jerry Stackhouse had 14 (including four 3-pointers), and Reggie Evans added 14 rebounds in 18 minutes for Brooklyn (9-4), who improved to 7-1 on their home hardwood this season and claimed a stake of the Atlantic Division lead – marking the latest into a season the Nets have been atop the division standings since January 2007.

“Deron is a big stage player, and he really dominated the game, and Brook was good with his five blocks, but we don’t win this game without a couple of people, one of which is Gerald Wallace,” coach Avery Johnson said in his postgame press conference. “And Reggie Evans with his offensive rebounds early that kept us in the game, and (Jerry) Stackhouse with his 3s … we talked before the game about our versatility, and now you see it.”

Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks (9-4), scoring a game-high 35 and adding 13 rebounds in 50 minutes, and Tyson Chandler had a double-double with a career-high 28 points and 10 boards – but it wasn’t enough to keep the “new kids on the block” from marking their territory.

The game was a back-and-forth affair, with 14 lead changes and 13 ties and neither team leading by more than seven. After a Lopez dunk with 4:01 to go, the Nets held an 81-76 lead and looked to be minutes away from a win, but the Knicks had other plans, using an 8-0 run over the next 2:23 to take an 84-81 lead.

Brooklyn rallied back to tie with 24.1 seconds left, and after Carmelo Anthony missed a mid-range jumper with five seconds left, the Nets were set up for some heroics – but Williams missed a desperation heave at the buzzer to send the game into extra time.

In that overtime, Chandler opened the scoring with a dunk, but the Nets then went on an 8-0 run, with Stackhouse burying his fourth trey of the game to make it 87-84 and give the Nets a lead they wouldn’t again relinquish.

Brooklyn’s defense, meanwhile, kept the Knicks scoreless for more than three minutes in OT, until Carmelo Anthony made a free throw with 1:15 to go, and Chandler added a tip-in in the final seconds to give himself a career-high and the Knicks’ final points.

“We really turned up our defense in overtime; we struggled with our pick-and-roll coverage for a minute, and I had to remind the guys that one of the points of emphasis coming into this game was to guard the 3 point line,” Avery Johnson said after the game. “I thought in one stretch we made it too easy for Chandler (by doing that), but we had a high rating on defense in the late fourth quarter and overtime, and we pulled the game out.”

Johnson also said that while getting the first win over the Knicks was satisfying – despite there being “no parades or trophies tomorrow,” it was even more satisfying to do it in front of a home crowd that has been very vocal all season long.

“Every time a Knicks contingent started to cheer, our fans got louder,” Johnson said. “This is what we have been dreaming about since I have been here. It’s a nice feeling and I’m glad we rewarded our fans with a victory; they deserved it.”

There were quite a few of those Knicks contingents in the capacity crowd of 17,732, but as Deron Williams said after the game, it was those who rose above to chant “Brooklyn, Brooklyn” and again be a potent sixth man that helped spur the players on in tough spots.

“You heard the crowd, they were amazing,” Deron Williams told TNT’s Craig Sager moments after the final buzzer. “They’ve been great for us all year, and we love them. We had a lot of energy for this game, we were ready for this game, and it showed. Every time we play these guys, it’s going to feel like that; hopefully this is a great rivalry for years to come.”

The Nets now get set to play a trio away from home, starting in Boston against the Celtics on Wednesday night (with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. on YES). Following that game, they will head to Florida for back-to-back games against Orlando and Miami on Friday and Saturday, and then return home to take on Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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