The Skinny: The battle of New York City began with a ton of energy on both sides. Tyson Chandler dominated the paint for the Knicks, while Gerald Wallace came out firing for the Nets. Carmelo Anthony came into the game leading the NBA in first quarter scoring at 10.9 points, but he managed just four points in the first frame. Deron Williams dished out five first quarter assists helping the Nets take a three-point lead after one.
The teams traded buckets throughout the entirety of the second quarter. Reggie Evans pulled down seven rebounds in the quarter, and Joe Johnson began heating up from the outside. Melo found his stroke, even hitting on a circus shot that bounced in off the top of the backboard, and finished the half with 15 points. A 6-0 Knicks run to close out the half gave New York a two-point lead at the break.
Both teams came out physical to open the third quarter. The Nets started pounding the ball inside to the big men for baskets, but Melo retained the hot hand. Brooklyn fought back to tie, but a 7-0 run opened a seven-point lead for the Knicks. The Nets then went on a 9-1 run to close out the quarter, giving them a one-point lead after three.
The Knicks went through an eight-minute stretch spanning the quarters without a field goal, but the Nets weren’t able to capitalize. With the game tied at 76, Jerry Stackhouse hit his third corner three of the game, followed by a dunk from Brook Lopez to give the Nets a five-point lead with just under four minutes to play. The Knicks immediately answered with an 8-0 run to go up three. Brooklyn cut the lead to one, but Lopez could only hit on 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game with 22.3 seconds remaining. Melo missed a shot at the other end, but since Deron Williams dribbled ahead before Avery Johnson could call a timeout, the Nets could not advance the ball, forcing the game to overtime.
The Nets opened a six-point lead to begin overtime, with Stackhouse hitting another clutch three and Gerald Wallace attacking the rim. Brooklyn played great defense in forcing Anthony into tough shots, which he missed. The Nets hit on clutch free-throws which sealed the overtime win.
High Scorers: Anthony led all scorers with 35 points on 11-of-25 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds for a double-double. For the Nets, Lopez led the way with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting, pulled down 11 rebounds for a double-double and blocked five shots.
Key Stats: Led by Stackhouse, the Nets bench outscored the Knicks bench, 30-13. The Knicks came into the game ranking second in the NBA with a 41.8 shooting percentage from three-point range but only managed to shoot 29 percent in this one.
Who Was Hot: Williams recorded a double-double with 16 points and a season-high 14 assists. Gerald Wallace scored a season-high 16 points. Evans again was a rebounding machine, and eight of his 14 rebounds were on the offensive glass. Stackhouse shot 4-of-5 from three-point range and finished with 14 points off the bench. For the Knicks, Chandler scored a career-high 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Who Was Not: After a good second quarter, Joe Johnson has another rough overall shooting performance, scoring eight points and 3-of-12 from the field. Rasheed Wallace kept firing up shots, but he only made 2-of-11 for six points. Raymond Felton was also cold, hitting on just 3-of-19 shots for eight points.
Fun Fact: This game featured five of the seven oldest players in the NBA: Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd (DNP- back spasms), Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Stackhouse. Grant Hill and Steve Nash are the other two.
The three-week delay was well worth the wait as this game had a playoff atmosphere right from the start. Felton likened this rivalry to UNC/Duke, and that’s exactly how it played out.
The first meeting between these teams was as hyped as a November game could be. The stars showed up to play, but Melo was held scoreless for the final seven minutes of play.
It was fitting that this game went to overtime. It simply sets the tone for what is shaping up to be a great rivalry. With the win, the Nets take over first place in the Atlantic Division and are now 7-1 at home.
If you thought this game was exciting, these teams will meet again at Barclays Center on Dec. 11.
Brooklyn (9-4) will hit the road for a three-game trip starting Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.