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Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

Nets begin Brooklyn era in winning style


NEW YORK — The chant was 55 years in the making, delayed a couple days by disaster, and delivered by a sold-out crowd that wasn't missing this party no matter what it took to get there.

News photo
Welcome to the neighborhood: Brooklyn's Brook Lopez dunks during the team's home opener on Saturday. The Nets beat the Raptors 107-100 in the first game at Barclays Center. AP

"Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!"

Those were the lyrics of a rocking return to major pro sports.

"That gave me jitters, man. Chills," guard Joe Johnson said. "I know that these fans want the best for this team. All they want from us is to work hard and give them a show."

Brook Lopez scored 27 points, Deron Williams added 19 points and nine assists, and the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 107-100 on Saturday night in the first game at Barclays Center.

A crowd of 17,732 that included entertainers Jay-Z, a part-owner, and wife Beyonce chanted the borough's name a few times during the game and loudly at the end, celebrating the name on the front of the shirt much more than the back.

And with good reason. Brooklyn hasn't had a team to cheer since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.

Nets coach Avery Johnson said there was so much that was special about the game, which came two nights after their scheduled opener that was postponed because travel around the city was wrecked by superstorm Sandy.

"Let's just start with the fact that we're in Brooklyn now and it's a big difference," Johnson said. "You saw the crowd tonight, even under the circumstances. Not only did we have a sellout, they were into the game."

C.J. Watson finished with 15 points and Joe Johnson had 14 for the Nets, who needed a home as badly as Brooklyn needs a team, and Avery Johnson said it's close to a perfect match.

"We've had two games in which we've been in the same situation, playing really well at times and then we fall behind. But we've fought hard against Indiana and the Brooklyn Nets, which are going to be two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That gives us a lot of confidence," Raptors guard Jose Calderon said.

The Nets pulled it out after Toronto got within two with 1:17 left, an uplifting end to a difficult week for the city and the franchise.

They were scheduled to open Thursday against the Knicks, but that was postponed at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg because travel to Barclays Center would have been difficult and perhaps dangerous with so much of the city's mass-transit system not operating.

The Nets, still practicing in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this season, were forced to move their midweek workouts to Barclays Center after their practice center was flooded and lost power. Some team members were forced into hotels, and Williams said his power was only restored Friday.

"It was good to finally be out here with the guys because we've been waiting since the last game of last season for this and just to have it pushed back, it was a little rough for us," Lopez said. "Like I said, there are some more important things, but we were definitely anxious these last few days."

The Manhattan hotel where the Raptors planned to stay lost power, so the team stayed in Brooklyn, instead.

The Nets lined up buses to run from Manhattan on Saturday, and fans got a boost when some subways began running from Manhattan. The storm's effects were evident at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center transit complex — water damage on the floor, escalators shut off — but there was a huge crowd in the plaza outside the arena before the game.

Heat 119, Nuggets 116

In Miami, Ray Allen had a four-point play with 6.7 seconds left that put the Heat ahead for good, and Chris Bosh scored 40 points.

Trail Blazers 95, Rockets (OT)

In Houston, rookie Damian Lillard scored 20 points, including eight in overtime, and Portland slowed down James Harden.

Spurs 110, Jazz 100

In San Antonio, Tony Parker had 24 points and 10 assists to lift the Spurs to the victory.

Warriors 113, Clippers 110

In Los Angeles, Stephen Curry and reserve Carl Landry had 23 points apiece and the Warriors held on for the victory.

Mavericks 126, Bobcats 99

In Dallas, O.J. Mayo scored 30 points and the Mavericks remained unbeaten against the Bobcats.

Hornets 89, Bulls 82

In Chicago, Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points and the Hornets got the win with top overall draft pick Anthony Davis sidelined by a mild concussion.

Celtics 89, Wizards 86

In Washington, Paul Pierce scored 27 points to lead the Celtics to their first victory of the season.

Pacers 106, Kings 98 (2OT)

In Indianapolis, George Hill scored 18 points and Indiana used its staunch defense to close out the double-overtime win.

Bucks 105, Cavaliers 102

In Cleveland, Brandon Jennings hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

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