The rivalry was supposed to be somewhat subdued, given the path of both teams.
The talk leading in centered more around the numbing early-season play of the Knicks and Nets, and how the disdain for each other wasn't as strong as it was a season ago during Brooklyn's inaugural campaign on this side of the Hudson River.
Maybe their hatred isn't as intense, but there's no denying that the bad blood still exists, as evidenced by Andrea Bargnani's first career ejection, three near- scuffles and six technical fouls issued during the Knicks' 113-83 nationally televised romp at Barclays Center Thursday night.
The Nets displayed some fire during those three staredowns. The final one occurred with just over eight minutes left. Referee Joey Crawford ejected Bargnani after he drilled a jumper, talked some serious smack to Kevin Garnett and picked up his second technical foul.
Asked what Bargnani said to him, Garnett quipped: "I don't understand Italian."
Bargnani said: "I wasn't speaking Italian, but that's not important. The game is important. I'm happy we won. I don't want to talk about that."
Bargnani and Garnett previously had gotten tangled up on the floor after a loose rebound, leading to some extracurricular activity in which double technicals were called.
Andray Blatche and Iman Shumpert almost got into it in the second quarter when Blatche was whistled for a moving screen. Blatche and Shumpert stood chest-to-chest, neither backing down, before they were hit with double technicals.
But those situations did little to get a rise out of the Nets. The Knicks were woofing and playing to the crowd as if it were their home game, trash-talking up a storm.
"It happens," Carmelo Anthony said. "You got two New York teams fighting for one spot. There's going to be some things going back and forth being said. We won tonight. We'll take it. That's what matters."
Meanwhile, their crosstown rivals are searching for answers.
"Everybody's in here trying to stay positive," Garnett said. "We come in trying to work as hard as we can. We're trying to carry over to games. We've got guys beat up and we're not whole, period! . . . But we're a fighting team. We're trying to do the right thing and come out and play together."
Said Joe Johnson, "It seems like to me, man, teams are coming in here, freelancing, shooting lights out. It's almost like there's no respect. And some way, somehow, we've got to step up and stop getting embarrassed."
By sending the Nets (5-14) to their sixth straight loss at home, the Knicks (4-13) put the brakes on their own nine-game losing streak.
"It's still meaningful," said Anthony, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "Any time we play them, it's still meaningful. We're across the bridge from each other, so it's always going to be some tension there with both teams. I'm just glad we won."
Here's the other side of the equation: For the first time in franchise history, the Nets have lost two straight games at home by at least 20 points. Things got so bad for them that one small section of fans chanted "Fire Kidd!" late in the fourth quarter, disappointed in the direction in which things are headed under Jason Kidd.
It's hard to feel good about any team that plays atrocious defense and yields open three-pointers. The Knicks were 16-for-27 from three-point range and shot 57.1 percent from the field overall.
"We have to stay positive," Kidd said. "We are not going to make excuses because we feel we have enough talent to win but we are coming up short. And we'll go back, look and see what we can do better."