The first meeting between the Knicks and Nets was an instant classic. The rematch will be saved in the MSG Vault.
Each team has drawn blood in the intraborough NBA rivalry after the Knicks beat the Nets 100-97 Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. The teams will play the remaining two games in the regular season series at the Garden on Dec. 19 and Jan. 21.
“[It] feels great to win. [I] can’t lie,” Carmelo Anthony said.
The Knicks improved to 16-5 while the Nets are 11-9. The Nets have lost five in a row.
Like the first time the Knicks and Nets congregated at the new digs on the corner of Flatbush and Pacific, Anthony was magnificent. He led all scorers with 45 points on 15-of-24 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Anthony also made 10-of-11 free throws. For good measure, he grabbed five rebounds and handed out three assists.
“He was an MVP,” Mike Woodson said of Anthony’s performance. “He’s had some pretty good games, [but] tonight he wanted it so bad.”
Jason Kidd finished with 18 points. His 3-pointer with 24.1 seconds remaining was the game-winner. It gave the Knicks’ their biggest lead of a game that had five lead changes and four ties.
“They kicked it over to Jason and I ran out at him,” Jerry Stackhouse said of Kidd’s winning basket. Stackhouse’s momentum caused him to collide with Kidd, who was awarded a free throw on the foul. “They executed well and moved the ball to the open guy. That was the difference in the game.”
Andray Blatche led the Nets with 23 points. Deron Williams had 18 points and 10 assists. Gerald Wallace added 17, while Joe Johnson chipped in with 16. Reggie Evans grabbed 18 rebounds.
The teams came into the game headed in opposite directions. The Knicks’ 15-5 mark was the best record in the Eastern Conference while the Nets, without Brook Lopez for the sixth straight game, had lost four in a row.
Naturally, it was the Nets that started the game looking like the better team. Brooklyn led 30-16 after the first quarter and held a 53-49 advantage at the half. The Nets shot 59.5 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes and had a 32-12 advantage in points in the paint.
“It was almost like we spotted them [the first quarter],” Anthony said.
But there was one reason the lead was only five at the half — Anthony. The early-season MVP candidate was transcendent in his second professional game in the borough of his birth. Anthony, who shuttled between power forward and center over the course of the game, scored 22 points in the first 24 minutes, including 14 in the second half.
“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” Kidd said, a theme that reverberated throughout the visitors’ dressing room.
What will resonate deeply for Nets head coach Avery Johnson was the Nets’ inability to manage the lead. The Nets led by as many 17 in the first half and twice had seven-point leads in the fourth quarter.
“We went up big again in the first half but we let them get some life at the end of the second quarter. Then we came out a little sluggish in the third,” Williams said. “They got the lead and then it was back and forth from there on. They made the plays when they needed to.”
The Knicks didn’t take their first lead until Raymond Felton’s wing jumper 1:41 into the third quarter gave the Knicks a 54-53 advantage. For the remainder of the game, the teams exchanged body blows — literally and figuratively. Wallace suffered a knee injury after a collision with J.R. Smith, while Anthony suffered a split lip and appeared to reaggravate his lacerated left middle finger following a fourth-quarter dunk.
Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.