BOTTOM LINE: There is a gaping hole in New York City's pro sports scene these days. There is no white-hot rivalry.
For Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins, and his Knicks counterpart Derek Fisher, Friday night in raucous Barclays Center was their first taste of what might be.
The Nets took Game 1 of the East River Rivalry, 110-99, an outcome that surely will burn in the back of every Knicks fan's mind. The Nets, with their fans cheering, “Brooklyn’s Better!’ made the Knicks look inept for three quarters.
They held the Knicks to 36.2-percent shooting (25-of-69) and a meager 66 points after three quarters as the Nets built an 18-point lead that was never challenged.
Meanwhile, the Nets, led by Deron Williams’ 29 points, sizzled, making 52.8 percent of their field goals (28-of-53) and 66.7 percent (10-of-15) of their threes.
Game 2 is Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden. There are signs of simmering hostility brewing.
Williams and Iman Shumpert engaged in a personal showdown that D-Will dominated. He broke the 20-point mark for the first time this season, scoring 29 and giving out six assists. Shumpert had 11 and five.
Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony valiantly took on – in no particular order – Joe Johnson, Alan Anderson, Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic. Anthony finished with 19 points but he was 5-of-20 from the field.
For the Nets (3-2), it was a big bounce-back win after Wednesday night’s letdown against the Minnesota Timberwolves. For the Knicks (2-4), it was a third straight loss.
Is it a white-hot rivalry? Not yet.
That won’t happen until both teams sit atop the Atlantic Division. Or meet in the playoffs. These games, with fans of both teams in the building, are building the fire.
"Any win is big,’’ Williams said, “but the fans love this rivalry and we wanted to come out and put on a show for them.’’
NETS' GAINS: If there was any question about Brook Lopez’s competitive fire, he answered it loud and clear.
After a subpar performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves (10 points, five rebounds), Lopez scored the first five points for the Nets.
He finished with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the line. He added nine rebounds.
“He did come out to atone for what he felt like was a subpar game,’’ said Lionel Hollins.
KEY PLAY: Before the game, Knicks coach Derek Fisher lauded Joe Johnson for his ability to play at such a high level while always under control.
With 3:29 left in the first half, Johnson boxed out Carmelo Anthony for a defensive rebound. Johnson brought the ball upcourt and zipped a pass to Mirza Teletovic, who was wide open under the basket.
The layup gave the Nets a 48-32 lead. Against the offensively challenged Knicks, it might as well have been a 32-point lead.
KEY STAT: Joe Johnson became the 14th player in NBA history to hit 1,600 three-pointers. He was 2-of-2 from behind the arc.
TALK: “It’s fun to win, period,’’ said Joe Johnson. “We’re not here just to beat the Knicks.’’