Nets celebrate Brooklyn curtain-raiser with win
BROOKLYN, New York - Reuters
Center Brook Lopez (11) led the Brooklyn Nets with 27 points while point guard Deron Williams added 19 points and nine assists in the team’s win over the Toronto Raptors. The victory marked a milestone for Brooklyn, which has welcomed its first major professional sports team in 55 years.The Brooklyn Nets baptized their new Barclays Center home with a 107-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 3 as the first major professional sports team in 55 years to call Brooklyn their home.
The Nets led by 13 points in the third quarter, but had to hold off the Raptors, who closed within 97-95 with 75 seconds left before a three-point play by Brook Lopez gave Brooklyn the cushion in their first game of the season.
“The experience was just absolutely amazing,” said Lopez. “The crowd brought so much energy, its Brooklyn energy.”
Center Lopez led the Nets with 27 points, while Kyle Lowry scored 28 points and DeMar DeRozan had 25 for Toronto, who fell to 0-2 after an opening home loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The Nets, who moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey, had been scheduled to play their home opener on Nov. 1 against cross-city rivals the Knicks, but the game was postponed because of mass transit problems due to damage by the superstorm Sandy that hit the area last week.
NBA Commissioner David Stern greeted the crowd, expressing concern for storm victims before declaring: “Welcome Brooklyn, USA, to the NBA.”
Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams thanked the crowd for turning out given the hardships and destruction wrought by the storm and said: “We hope to represent Brooklyn right.”
Williams scored 19 points and doled out nine assists in the win.
Former Brooklyn Dodgers players Ralph Branca and Joe Pignatano participated in pre-game festivities as ties to Brooklyn’s fabled sporting past, dormant since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 Major League Baseball season.
The Nets also debuted a new team anthem and dropped down from the rafters on a cable their new mascot - a masked, shield-bearing “Brooklyn Knight”.
Overcoming a slow start with Toronto leading by eight after the first quarter, the Nets turned on the jets in the second with help from their bench players to outscore them 33-17 for a 60-52 halftime lead. The Nets extended their lead to double digits before the Raptors turned it into a nail-biter at the finish.
Fouled on the play, Lopez sank the free throw to put the Nets ahead 100-95 and chants of “Brooklyn, Brooklyn” serenaded the team.
Joe Johnson, the Nets’ big off-season addition, scored 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
“I had a lot of jitters coming into this game,” the swing man said. “At the beginning I was moving too fast, trying too hard.
“Our second unit really did it for us in the second quarter,” Johnson added. “They gave us a nice lead, a cushion and we coasted the rest of the game.”
Guard C.J. Watson came off the bench to score 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting including 3-of-4 from three-point range.