Los Angeles: The Nets, out to make Brooklyn the centre of New York City’s NBA universe, edged the Knicks 113-109 on Friday, but not before a fourth-quarter dogfight.
Brooklyn’s new star Kyrie Irving didn’t match the 50 points he dropped in a heartbreaking season-opening loss to Minnesota, but his 26 points included a step-back three-pointer with 22.4 seconds to play that gave the Nets a 111-109 lead that they wouldn’t give up.
“Ah man, I just had to get to my spot, make sure my elbow was pointed and, you know, gratefully it went in,” Irving said of the shot that drew comparisons to his game-winner in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals for Cleveland.
Allonzo Trier’s 22 points helped the Knicks erase a 19-point deficit and take a three-point lead with 3:41 to play.
Irving said his only message to his teammates as the Knicks poured on the pressure was “stay poised, stay calm.”
Irving ramped up the Big Apple rivalry on Thursday when he said at a promotional event that the Nets were “going to take over the whole city.
“It’s about us,” said Irving, who was booed by Knicks fans who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge for the game at the Barclays Center.
Nets fans had their say as well, with taunting reminders that it was Brooklyn that won the off-season free agent contest with the acquisition of Irving and former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant — who is still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that marred the end of his tenure at Golden State.
The Knicks had a chance to tie it at the end, but Julius Randle lost the ball under the basket and Spencer Dinwiddie — who scored 20 points off the bench for Brooklyn — made two free throws to seal it.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost their season-opener on Tuesday to their upstart cross-town rivals the Clippers, bounced back with a 95-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.
James scored 32 points with 10 assists and seven rebounds and Anthony Davis scored 21 points with seven rebounds.
There was no let-down for the Minnesota Timberwolves after their one-point overtime victory over the Nets on Wednesday in the face of Irving’s 50-point explosion.