Nets edge Knicks in Barclays classic
Record crowd sees Brooklyn best arch rivals, 112-110
The most fans ever assembled inside of Downtown’s Barclays Center didn’t leave disappointed Tuesday night.
Especially if they were pulling for Brooklyn.
James Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds to play as the Nets edged the arch rival New York Knicks, 112-110, in front of a record-setting bi-partisan crowd of 18,081 on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
James Harden had 34 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Kevin Durant added 27 points and nine helpers for the Nets (15-6), who rebounded from Saturday’s home loss to Phoenix with their 13th win in 16 games.
“Being here two years now, it doesn’t matter who’s on that team or who’s on this team, I think the energy’s always going to be there,” Harden said of the boisterous crowd, which was admittedly more in favor of New York.
“Whether it’s here or at MSG, the fans are going to be cheering for their respective teams and it’s going to be a good game every time, and tonight we’re just happy to come out with the win.”
Despite Harden and Durant’s heroics, Brooklyn’s two superstars were guarded heavily down the stretch, forcing Durant to find Johnson in the waning seconds of a 110-110 deadlock.
Johnson drove into the lane and drew the fateful whistle, draining both attempts before Evan Fournier missed a floater in the lane as time expired, ending the first meeting of the season between the East River rivals, who won’t see each other again until Feb. 16 at Madison Square Garden.
Alec Burks scored a season-high 25 points and Julius Randle added 24 for the Knicks (11-10), who have alternated wins and losses in their six contests.
Rookie Cam Thomas finished with 12 points off the bench and Patty Mills added 10 for Brooklyn, which will continue this four-game homestand Friday night vs. Minnesota.
But of those four home games, this was the one Brooklyn fans wanted most, especially on a night they had to see their arena get taken over on occasion before sending Knicks fans home with a big “L”.
“We know it’s going to be a pro-Knicks crowd. The Knicks have been around for 75 years if I’m not mistaken,” Nets head coach Steve Nash noted.
“We understand that, so it’s an opportunity for our team to rise to the challenge and defend our home court. So I thought the atmosphere was great, though. It felt like, I don’t know, a barnburner, a big high school game or a big college game. It was a great atmosphere.”
And a great way to rekindle what is developing into a genuine and bitter rivalry.
NOTHING BUT NET: Brooklyn sharpshooter Joe Harris underwent successful arthroscopic surgery Monday on his left ankle, the Nets revealed in a team-issued release. The procedure, performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery, involved the removal of a loose body. Harris has missed seven games since injuring the ankle on Nov. 14 at Oklahoma City. … After hosting the Timberwolves on Friday, the Nets will close out their stand here vs. Chicago on Saturday before opening a four-game trip Tuesday at Dallas.
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