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11/04/2012 12:35 AM EDT
Nets beat Raptors 107-100 in Brooklyn debut
BROOKLYN 107, TORONTO 100

By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The chant was 55 years in the making, delayed a
couple days by disaster, and delivered by a sold-out crowd that
wasn't missing this party no matter what it took to get there.



"Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!"



Those were the lyrics of a rocking return to major pro sports.



"That gave me jitters, man. Chills," guard Joe Johnson said. "I
know that these fans want the best for this team. All they want
from us is to work hard and give them a show."



Brook Lopez scored 27 points, Deron Williams added 19 points and
nine assists, and the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 107-100 on
Saturday night in the first game at Barclays Center.



A crowd of 17,732 that included entertainers Jay-Z, a
part-owner, and wife Beyonce chanted the borough's name a few
times during the game and loudly at the end, celebrating the
name on the front of the shirt much more than the back.



And with good reason. Brooklyn hasn't had a team to cheer since
the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.



Nets coach Avery Johnson said there was so much that was special
about the game, which came two nights after their scheduled
opener that was postponed because travel around the city was
wrecked by Superstorm Sandy.



"Let's just start with the fact that we're in Brooklyn now and
it's a big difference," Johnson said. "You saw the crowd
tonight, even under the circumstances. Not only did we have a
sellout, they were into the game."



C.J. Watson finished with 15 points and Joe Johnson had 14 for
the Nets, who needed a home as badly as Brooklyn needs a team,
and Avery Johnson said it's close to a perfect match.



Kyle Lowry had 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for
the Raptors, who fell to 0-2. DeMar DeRozan added 25 points.



"We've had two games in which we've been in the same situation,
playing really well at times and then we fall behind. But we've
fought hard against Indiana and the Brooklyn Nets, which are
going to be two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
That gives us a lot of confidence," guard Jose Calderon said.



The Nets pulled it out after Toronto got within two with 1:17
left, an uplifting end to a difficult week for the city and the
franchise.



They were scheduled to open Thursday against the Knicks, but
that was postponed at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg
because travel to Barclays Center would have been difficult and
perhaps dangerous with so much of the city's mass-transit system
not operating.



The Nets, still practicing in East Rutherford, N.J. this season,
were forced to move their midweek workouts to Barclays Center
after their practice center was flooded and lost power. Some
team members were forced into hotels, and Williams said his
power was only restored Friday.



"It was good to finally be out here with the guys because we've
been waiting since the last game of last season for this and
just to have it pushed back, it was a little rough for us,"
Lopez said. "Like I said, there are some more important things,
but we were definitely anxious these last few days."



The Manhattan hotel where the Raptors planned to stay lost
power, so the team stayed in Brooklyn, instead.



The Nets lined up buses to run from Manhattan on Saturday, and
fans got a boost when some subways began running from Manhattan.
The storm's effects were evident at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays
Center transit complex - water damage on the floor, escalators
shut off - but there was a huge crowd in the plaza outside the
arena before the game and the building appeared mostly full long
before a lively pregame ceremony.



Commissioner David Stern turned boos into cheers when he
announced it was honor "welcome Brooklyn, USA to the NBA."
Former Brooklyn Dodgers Ralph Branca, and Joe Pignatano, along
with Gil Hodges, Jr., whose father was a star with the beloved
Dodgers before they moved to Los Angeles, exchanged jerseys with
some Nets players.



The Nets are completely rebranded after 35 years in New Jersey,
with a new logo, black-and-white color scheme, and a new mascot
called "BrooklyKnight" who was introduced.



Most importantly, they think they'll have a fan base. Never
truly loved during while bouncing around multiple homes in
Jersey after leaving Long Island, Branca said the Nets will find
the same loyal fans in Brooklyn that backed the Dodgers.



The Nets believe they've built a playoff team after re-signing
Williams, trading for Johnson and re-signing starters Lopez,
Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. Russian owner Mikhail
Prokhorov said the Nets have the "best arena in the NBA and a
competitive team."



He said when he bought the team his goal was to win a title in
five years. The billionaire bachelor joked that since he's two
years into his ownership and said he'd get married if he didn't
meet his deadline that he was "maybe the most devoted guy for
the championship."



Williams made a jumper for the first Barclays basket, but
Toronto shot 62.5 percent in the first quarter and led 35-27.
The Nets outscored the Raptors 33-17 in the second, forcing
eight turnovers, and led 60-52 at halftime.



"That was a big quarter, a stretch of mistakes there. One
stretch that got us in the second quarter," Raptors coach Dwane
Casey said. "Again, we fought our way back into position even
with that bad quarter. We put ourselves in position to win. We
got to close it out."



Williams put it away with four free throws in the final 20
seconds.



Reggie Evans had 13 rebounds in just 16 minutes off the Nets'
bench.



Notes: Wallace hurt his left ankle trying to block a shot in the
final minutes. X-rays were negative and the Nets said he was day
to day. ... Nets reserve Josh Childress sat out with a sore left
ankle and Avery Johnson said he doubted Childress would play
Monday against Minnesota, either. ... The Nets evened the
all-times series at 33-33.



---



Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

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