The first (delayed) shot in the brand-new New York Knicks-Brooklyn Nets rivalry was fired on Monday night, with the hard-fought 96-89 win by the Nets, which of course had to go into overtime just to make the game that much more memorable. The first time the two teams met in a regular-season NBA game came on Nov. 30, 1976, at Madison Square Garden, and the newly-joined-from-the-ABA Nets won that one as well, in a game that was just as closely contested, as they edged the Knicks, 104-103. The star on that night was Hall-of-Fame point guard Nate Archibald, who led the Nets with 34 points, while adding eight assists and four steals. He scored 11 of the Nets' last 21 points. Archibald's backcourt mate Super John Williamson poured in 24 points. Spencer Haywood led the Knicks, with 25 points, and Walt Frazier (15 points) started at forward for the first time in his career. Here are the Top 5 stars of Monday night's historic game in Brooklyn.
5. Gerald Wallace: We could go any number of ways here, with Jerry Stackhouse getting a nod for his four three-pointers or Reggie Evans and his 14 rebounds, but we'll pick Wallace because of his all-around play and logging twice as many minutes as those two. He scored 16 points, with two threes, grabbed five rebounds, blocked two shots, had a couple of steals and two assists. But most importantly, he hounded the Knicks on defense and was relentless all night.
4. Carmelo Anthony: It was looking like Anthony would take over the game, as he poured in 35 points in 50 minutes, but things began teetering toward The Carmelo Anthony Show with his teammates watching him, but then they seemingly forgot about him at the end of the fourth quarter and barely let him touch the ball (as Raymond Felton did his John Starks 1994 Game 7 impression). Anthony hauled in 13 rebounds, and had a steal, a block and an assist. He had an off night at the free-throw line, though, going 10-or-16.
3. Tyson Chandler: The Knick center poured in a career-high 28 points, on almost perfect 12-for-13 shooting. He added 10 rebounds, with seven coming on the offensive boards, giving his team second chances all night. He also had a steal and an assist to go with a few furious dunks.
2. Brook Lopez: The game featured a great battle of centers, and Lopez more than held his own with Chandler. The Net center led all players with five blocked shots, and he scored 22 points, with 11 rebounds, matching Chandler's seven offensive boards. This was the type of game the Nets were hoping for from Lopez this season, and so far he hasn't disappointed.
1. Deron Williams: The Nets' leader willed his team to a win on their home court. His 16 points were a nice complement to his more important 14 assists, as he ran the show and set up his teammates for easy shots all over the floor. Williams added six rebounds and three steals. It's his team and his home, and he gave his fans their first victory over the Knicks in the first of many battles with this intense playoff-like win.