After start of season delayed, Knicks open Friday night against LeBron, Heat

C.J. Watson fouls Ronnie Brewer during the first

C.J. Watson fouls Ronnie Brewer during the first half of a preseason game. (Oct. 24, 2012) (Credit: AP)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The usual hype surrounding a Knicks-Heat game and LeBron James visiting the Garden has been quieted by the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused.

The Knicks' season opener scheduled for Thursday night in Brooklyn was postponed and has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 26. That makes Friday night's game against the defending champion Heat the Knicks' 2012-13 debut.

Those fans who are able to attend probably will chant things at James and try to will the Knicks to a victory. It could be therapeutic for some, but Knicks starting swingman Ronnie Brewer put this latest edition of Knicks-Heat in perspective.

"It's just a game," Brewer said. "A game was supposed to be played [Thursday night] at the Barclays Center. There's people without electricity, people without homes, people who lost loved ones. So I still think our heart goes out to them.

"We've got to focus on the task at hand. Hopefully, this game can uplift some people and give some people in New York something to cheer about. After that game, it goes back to real life. There's still people in New York struggling and still need some relief. I think that's important."

The Heat flew into Newark Thursday night and it took them close to three hours to get to their midtown hotel because of traffic into Manhattan.

At one point, Dwyane Wade tweeted, "3 hour traffic just to get into the NY city . . . #C'monMan." Wade later clarified what he meant and tweeted, "We shouldn't B hre 2 play a basketball game when theirs so many families obviously still R affected by #Sandy."

Earlier in the day, James expressed his concern for those Sandy impacted.

"I think it's very unfortunate," he said. "It's a natural disaster so there's nothing anyone can do about it. All the families that either lost loved ones or their house has been destroyed, whatever the case may be, our prayers go out to them."

The Knicks hope they can put a smile on some New Yorkers' faces when they face off against their rival, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

The Knicks spent the offseason trying to build a team that could supplant the Heat as the best in the East, if not the NBA. But the Knicks aren't the only team that improved. Miami is better, too. The Heat added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, bolstering its bench.

"Absolutely I think they're better," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "Any time you win a title, you're in a totally different light in terms of how you approach things. You see things a little bit differently. There's no doubt they're well-coached, they're well-managed from top to bottom. They made some offseason moves to better their ballclub."

He added, "Only time will tell for them if it carries over to where they're trying to go, and that's to win a title. That's our goal too -- to win an NBA title."

The Heat showed how good it can be in its opening-night win over the Celtics on Tuesday. Miami scored 120 points against a strong defensive team and with James sitting out much of the fourth quarter with leg cramps.

Woodson likes that the Knicks are opening against the Heat. Said the coach, "I think early on, it's always best to play the best teams just to gauge or see where you are as a team."

He was asked if he thinks the Knicks have closed the gap.

"You don't know until you play," Woodson said. "I feel good about the makeup of our ballclub. We added some nice pieces this summer. Now we have to see where we are come tomorrow night."

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