The Brooklyn Nets, out to make Brooklyn the center of New York City's NBA universe, edged the New York Knicks 113-109 Friday, but not before a fourth-quarter dogfight.
Brooklyn's new star Kyrie Irving didn't match the 50 points he dropped in a heartbreaking season-opening loss to Minnesota, but his 26 points included a step-back three-pointer with 22.4 seconds to play that gave the Nets a 111-109 lead that they wouldn't give up.
“Ah man, I just had to get to my spot, make sure my elbow was pointed and, you know, gratefully it went in,” Irving said of the shot that drew comparisons to his game-winner in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals for Cleveland.
Allonzo Trier's 22 points helped the Knicks erase a 19-point deficit and take a three-point lead with 3:41 to play.
Irving said his only message to his teammates as the Knicks poured on the pressure was “stay poised, stay calm.” He ramped up the Big Apple rivalry when he said at a promotional event that the Nets were “going to take over the whole city.
“It's about us,” said Irving, who was booed by Knicks fans who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge for the game at the Barclays Center.
Nets fans had their say as well, with taunting reminders that it was Brooklyn that won the off-season free agent contest with the acquisition of Irving and former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant — who is still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that marred the end of his tenure at Golden State Warriors.
The Knicks had a chance to tie it at the end, but Julius Randle lost the ball under the basket and Spencer Dinwiddie — who scored 20 points off the bench for Brooklyn — made two free throws to seal it.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost their season-opener on Tuesday to upstart cross-town rival the Clippers, bounced back with a 95-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.
James scored 32 points with 10 assists and seven rebounds and Anthony Davis scored 21 points with seven rebounds. Davis also blocked five shots as the revamped Lakers delivered an impressive defensive performance.
“The more we can defend like this, the easier it'll be for us,” said Davis after the Lakers harried the Jazz into 23 turnovers that yielded 22 Los Angeles points.
“That's who we are,” James said of the defensive effort. “We want to be that every single night, being able to hold teams under their averages.”
James scored 12 points in the third quarter and the Lakers led by 19 heading into the final frame -- when they stretched the advantage to as many as 22.
“He just was locked in,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James, “especially in the second half.”
- T-Wolves win again -
There was no let-down for the Minnesota Timberwolves after its one-point overtime victory over the Nets on Wednesday in the face of Irving's 50-point explosion.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 37 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and handed out eight assists as the Timberwolves won its second straight -- 121-99 over the Charlotte Hornets.
Towns connected on 13 of 18 shots from the field, making four three-pointers.
In Boston, Kemba Walker scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won a tense battle with the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors 112-106.
Two days after falling to the 76ers in Philadelphia, the Celtics got off to a slow start in their home season-opener but came alive offensively in the second half to withstand a Raptors challenge that included 33 points for Pascal Siakam and 29 for Kyle Lowry. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 25 points apiece for the Celtics.
The Dallas Mavericks surrendered 41 first-quarter points in New Orleans but aided by a triple-double from Luka Doncic of 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit for a 123-116 victory over the Pelicans.