If it hadn’t started when the Nets left New Jersey and set up shop in the Knicks’ city, it surely arrived when Jason Kidd delivered the tiebreaking 3-pointer Tuesday night, making himself an enemy of his former franchise.
”I hate him,” Nets guard Deron Williams said.
Williams was kidding, the point guards are friends. But Nets fans who watched Kidd ask out of the organization and Carmelo Anthony refuse to come could easily work up more dislike of the Knicks after watching those two Tuesday.
Anthony scored a season-high 45 points, Kidd made the tiebreaking shot with 24 seconds left, and the Knicks rallied from an early 17-point hole to beat Brooklyn 100-97.
Kidd finished with 18 points against his former team, who used to dominate the Knicks when he played in New Jersey. He pumped his fist afterward in what he said was as much emotion as he shows, though denied taking any special pleasure in beating the Nets.
”I’m a competitor. I want to win,” he said.
Now the series is tied at 1-1 since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, both games coming down to the tense final minutes.
”It is (a rivalry). I mean, after that first game, we might as well accept that,” Anthony said. ”It is what it is. They’re on our division, we see them four times a year. It is a rivalry. It’s great for New York to have that in Brooklyn and in Manhattan. When we come here it’s a battle. When they come there, it’s going to be a battle. We expect that.”
Andray Blatche scored 23 points in place of Brook Lopez, who missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right foot. Williams added 18 points and 10 assists, and Reggie Evans grabbed 18 rebounds, but the Nets lost their fifth straight.
Gerald Wallace scored 17 points, but both he and Williams missed potential tying 3-pointers on the last possession after Kidd broke a 97-all tie with his 3-pointer from the left side while being fouled by Jerry Stackhouse.
Kidd missed the free throw in an otherwise terrific effort for the 39-year-old point guard who helped carry the Knicks while fellow point guard Raymond Felton was struggling through a 3-for-12 night. Kidd had six rebounds and six assists, playing 38 minutes.
There were wild swings in momentum and crowd support in the second half, once the Knicks had gotten themselves untracked after the Nets threatened to run them off the floor in the first quarter.
The crowd was loud and energetic, the players and fans eventually matching the playoff-like intensity from the first meeting, a 96-89 Nets victory in overtime here on Nov. 26. That had left both teams tied atop the Atlantic Division at 9-4, but the Knicks have since gone 7-1 to surge to the top of the Eastern Conference, while Brooklyn has gone 2-5.
It occasionally felt like a Knicks home game, with ”MVP! MVP!” chants for Anthony – which the Knicks think he deserves – and a black-and-orange dressed Spike Lee sitting courtside and yelling at the referees.
”He’s had some pretty good games under my tutelage but I just think tonight he wanted it so badly, man,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ”He made shot after shot.”
The Brooklyn native never wanted to play in New Jersey, preferring instead a trade to the Knicks, and Kidd eventually wanted out after leading the Nets to two NBA Finals but never the local popularity of the Knicks.
But despite their efforts, the Nets had plenty of chances to send their fans home happy.
”This was a winnable game,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said, ”but we just couldn’t quite close it.”
The Nets scored the first five points, gave up a 3-pointer to Kidd, then outscored the Knicks 16-2 over the next five-plus minutes to open a 21-5 lead on Blatche’s layup with 4:29 left in the first quarter. Brooklyn hit nine of its first 11 shots, led by as much as 17 and was ahead 30-16 going to the second. Blatche had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in eight minutes.
The Nets still led by 16 with 4:49 remaining in the half, but Anthony nailed a jumper and 3-pointer, triggering an 18-6 run to end the half that he capped with a layup with 1.8 seconds left, bringing the Knicks within 53-49 as they headed to the locker room.
The Knicks scored the first five points of the second half to take their first lead, but Williams quickly put the Nets back ahead and Blatche helped them stay there. Brooklyn was back up by nine late in the third quarter before settling for a 79-74 lead.
Brooklyn held the lead until Kidd tied it a 91 on a 3-pointer with 4:01 to play. The Nets lost a potential go-ahead basket when Blatche’s tip in was ruled an offensive violation, and Anthony tipped in his own miss to give New York a 93-91 edge with 2:47 to play.
The Nets tied it again at 95 when Wallace – who just moments before had banged knees hard with J.R. Smith and could barely stand – tipped in a miss. Two free throws by Anthony followed by Joe Johnson’s basket set the stage for Kidd’s go-ahead shot.
NOTES:At a ceremony Tuesday afternoon, a flagpole from Ebbets Field was dedicated outside Barclays Center. Sharon Robinson, daughter of Dodgers Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, took part in the ceremony, as did Stackhouse, who wears Robinson’s No. 42. The flagpole had been donated to a local VFW post after the stadium was demolished in 1960 and remained at that site until Nets part-owner Bruce Ratner, the Barclays Center developer, obtained it in 2007 with the plan of bringing it here. ”I think that’s a beautiful connection to Ebbets Field,” Robinson said. ”To imagine this flying over Ebbets Field and that the Brooklyn Dodgers being so much part of that history, to have this plaque will remind them that the Brooklyn Dodgers were here and made such a difference in the community and now we have the Brooklyn Nets.” … The Knicks play their next six games at home starting Thursday against the Lakers. They host the Nets on Dec. 19 and don’t go back on the road until opening a three-game trip against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Christmas.