The win was celebrated, yet downplayed.
For one night at least, the Nets could’ve said they owned the big bad city. They took down the Knicks, keeping their Manhattan neighbors from turning the Barclays Center into Madison Square Garden East.
But after securing a 96-89 win, there was no pounding of the chests. Not a single gotcha moment from anyone in the locker room. The Nets know what it all means and chose to keep it all in perspective.
If nothing else, they were certainly pleased that they’re changing the perception -- local and national -- of a franchise that’s months removed from toiling in relative obscurity in those Jersey swamps, and creating something fresh.
“We are all new to this,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “We had nothing to really do with the New Jersey Nets. We are a new team, we are a new organization. We are a new group. There are a couple of holdover guys from what was going on, but we feel like this is all new, and we are building.
“We’d love to build a rivalry -- East New York vs. West New York. We know that Knicks fans are Knicks fans. But I think there’s enough of kind of an ornery group in Brooklyn that’s going to represent for us and we appreciate that.”
On to the Three Pointers:
--* Making Melo work was key
Carmelo Anthony is a scoring machine. At his height, with his offensive skill set, the cat is hard to stop when he gets on one of those rolls. You just have to hope that he falls into bad habits, reverts into isolation mode and starts going all NBA2K with hopes of delivering the goods in one-on-one fashion.
Even though he netted a game-high 35 points, the Nets did their part in harassing Anthony, who shot 11-for-25 overall and 5 for-11 in the fourth quarter, the final miss coming on a potential game-winner with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
Anthony went the free throw line 16 times, hitting 10 of them.
“You keep putting a fresh body on him and it kind of wears him down. But I think if you have to guard a Melo all buy yourself, you’re in trouble,” Keith Bogans said, laughing, “for 48 minutes. I mean, we’ve got to switch off and put some fresh legs on him and try to wear him down. And that’s what we did.
“Our teammates helped us out being in the right spot at the right time.”
Anthony got up two shots in overtime, missing both, and scored merely a point.
“Main thing was just to try to keep the ball out his hands,” Bogans said, “and then when he did [get it], make him take a tough shot or make somebody else make a play. That’s the main thing with Melo.
“It’s impossible to guard him by yourself.”
--* Deron outdished the Knicks all by his lonesome.
Deron Williams had 14 assists, setting up his teammates with some nifty passes. He controlled the offense about as well as he has all season, finding guys at the right time. He had seven assists in each half.
With the Nets’ offensive talent, you’d like to see Deron record double-digit assists just about every night because scoring shouldn’t be a problem in most games for them.
“Coach talked a lot about pushing the ball,” Deron said. “We wanted to push the ball in transition, try to get some easy baskets. We didn’t have a ton of fastbreak points, but I just think the pace was a lot better. We got into our sets a lot faster. We’ve been shooting a lot of shots late in the clock and we wanted to kind of eliminate that.”
Williams is banged up, nursing right wrist and elbow injuries that were aggravated when he tried to throw one down on Blake Griffin Friday night.
“I landed and came down and braced my fall with my right wrist and jammed it,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with the surgery in [April of 2011]. That has been fine. I just kind of sprained the joint, so it’s been a little bit sore.”
--* And now ... Time for our daily Joe
Joe Johnson is the type of guy that doesn’t go through many peaks and valleys. He stays even-keeled for the most part. But right now, there’s no doubt he’s getting frustrated with his J, which failed him again. Remember, he’s shooting 39 percent from the floor.
He was coming off those back-to-back games against the Clippers and Trail Blazers, though, a pair of his best shooting performances of the season. After going a combined 18-for-31 against them and registering season-high shooting percentages of 66.7 and 52.6 in the respective games, Johnson went 3-for-12 despite, at times, being guarded by Raymond Felton and finished with eight points in 43 minutes.
His +/- for those who care about such things (I’m personally not a huge fan of the stat) was zero.
Joe was, no doubt, somewhat bummed out after the game about his poor shooting night. But he took solace in the fact the Nets picked up victory.
“That’s the most important thing,” he said. “We got a win and that’s what we set out to do.”