The Knicks bounced back from their worst defensive performance of the season Sunday afternoon and now can focus on the battle of the boroughs Monday night in Brooklyn.
It's been on Carmelo Anthony's mind for a while.
Most popular sports stories
After scoring 29 points to lead the Knicks to a 121-100 victory over the Pistons at the Garden, the Brooklyn-born Anthony said he can't wait to play the Nets.
"If we don't get up for this game, then I don't know what games we'll get up for," he said. "It's an inner-city game -- New York versus Brooklyn. To me, going back home, going back to my borough, playing my first game back there is a very special moment for myself."
Anthony had several chances to be traded to the Nets during the 2010-11 season. The Nuggets were close to making a deal, but the Nets were in New Jersey then. Anthony held out because he wanted to play in New York and for the Knicks.
He got his wish, and Monday night he'll get what he wants. He promises not to be too hyped up.
"I'll be clear-minded, clearheaded," Anthony said. "Just to step on that court and to see the Brooklyn logo on that basketball court, I'll feel like I'm home. I know they're over there and they scream 'Brooklyn!' out in the crowd. Watching the game, it kind of gives me goose bumps just to hear that."
For most of Sunday's game, Anthony and the Knicks (9-3) played as if they couldn't wait to get to Brooklyn. But they also wanted to wash away the stench from their 28-point loss in Houston on Friday, when they gave up 131 points.
Anthony made his first six shots en route to scoring 15 points in the first quarter. The Knicks led by 20 at halftime, let the Pistons draw within eight in the third and then put the game away to remain unbeaten in five home games.
Steve Novak had his best game since opening night, scoring 18 off the bench. He was 5-for-7 from three-point range. J.R. Smith added 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Rasheed Wallace also had 15 points and Raymond Felton added 14 points and 10 assists. Tyson Chandler had 13 points.
"We wanted to bounce back," Anthony said. "We got back to playing the defense we know how to play and we really locked in on that end of the court."
The game at Barclays Center is a makeup of the Nov. 1 contest that was postponed by superstorm Sandy. There was a lot of buildup to that night because it was the regular-season opener for both teams and the Nets' first game in Brooklyn.
There might be more interest now that the two teams have played a dozen games and are close in the standings. The Nets (8-4) are one game behind the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks.
The game has more significance for the Nets, though. They are trying to build a fan base in New York and want to show the Knicks they have competition at the box office and on the court.
The Knicks just want to continue winning. They have higher goals than being the top team in New York. Realistic or not, they believe they're a championship contender.
"For us, we're a veteran ballclub and it's just another game on the road," former Net and current Knick Jason Kidd said.
"I don't buy too much into the whole situation," Tyson Chandler said. "I don't consider it a rivalry. It hasn't been enough. Honestly, I feel more animosity toward the Heat and the Celtics than I do the Nets."
Chandler agrees with Anthony that the Knicks should get up for this game -- but for different reasons.
"I'm looking forward to it," Chandler said. "It's a divisional matchup. It's an opportunity to get a full game. I know the city is going to be pumped up. It should be a good game."