BROOKLYN - Move over, Joe Namath. Step aside, Mark Messier.
There’s a new guarantor in New York City sports lore and he wears the black and white of Brooklyn.
Paul Pierce said the Brooklyn Nets would return to Toronto for a decisive Game 7 against the Raptors on Sunday and that was The Truth.
Pierce and Co. backed it up Friday night as the Nets dominated Game 6, winning 97-83, before the most boisterous crowd of the season in Barclays Center.
Pierce, who finished with 12 points, and Joe Johnson (17 points), the relentless warrior, each scored nine points in the first quarter as the Nets surged to a 34-19 lead and never looked back.
They’ve been looking ahead since Wednesday night’s 115-113 Game 5 loss in Toronto. The Nets rallied from 26 points down with a 44-point fourth quarter and took the momentum from Canada across the border.
After that defeat, Pierce said, ‘We’ll see the Raptors here next week.”
And at Friday morning’s shootaround, Andray Blatche, who played his strongest game of the playoffs with eight points and seven rebounds, backed up Pierce.
“Definitely going back to Toronto,’’ said Blatche, who had two blocked shots and drew a key charge on Kyle Lowry in a first half in which the Nets led by as much as 21.
The Nets ruled from opening tip to final horn as a sellout crowd of 17,732 turned the basketball cathedral on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues into the best party in Brooklyn.
“We’re at home, so we expect our fans to help us find a way to win tonight’s game,” coach Jason Kidd said earlier the day.
They did. And point guard Deron Williams, who had been criticized in the team’s losses in Games 4 and 5, silenced the naysayers. Williams finished with 23 points, including a 3 with 1:13 left that iced it, five rebounds and four assists.
Williams, who left to a resounding ovation with 38.5 seconds remaining, hurt his left ankle early in the third quarter and was in obvious discomfort. He toughed it out, playing 38 minutes and holding his Toronto counterpart, Kyle Lowry, who had 36 points in Game 5, to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.