It took a bit longer than anticipated, but the Nets finally made their debut in Brooklyn and got off on the right foot.
After Hurricane Sandy postponed the scheduled season opener on Thursday against the Knicks, Brook Lopez poured in 27 points, including a crucial three-point play late, to give the Brooklyn Nets a 107-100 decision over the Toronto Raptors in their regular season debut at the Barclays Center.
The game marked the return of the first professional sports team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left town in 1957. Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams hit a couple of clutch free throws late to secure the victory, finishing with 19 points and nine assists on the night.
"This was a special night," Nets coach Avery Johnson said of the team's Brooklyn debut. "I am so thrilled to be a part of it. In some ways we tried to downplay it, but this night meant a whole lot to a lot of people."
Newly acquired guards Joe Johnson and C.J. Watson made solid contributions as well for Brooklyn. Johnson dropped in 14 points and Watson shot 6-of-9 off the bench, good for 15 points.
Kyle Lowry scored a game-high 28 points while also adding eight rebounds and eight assists for the Raptors. Fresh off signing a four-year, $40 million extension, DeMar DeRozan added 25 points for Toronto, which has lost its first two games of the season.
Late in the game, after Nets forward Gerald Wallace converted just 1-of-2 free throws, Lowry buried a long 3-pointer to pull the Raptors within two at 97-95. But on the following possession, Lopez got position underneath the basket and scored on layup, drawing a foul. He converted the free throw to give Brooklyn a five-point lead with just under a minute remaining.
Alan Anderson buried a three with 20 seconds remaining to make it a three- point game, but Williams converted his final four free throw attempts to seal the victory.
Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million pact to stay with the Nets over the summer, drained a jumper to score the first points in Brooklyn's new arena, but the team started slow overall.
They trailed by as many as 10 in the first, but the hosts started the second period on a 13-3 run, which was capped on a Reggie Evans layup to take a 40-38 lead.
Watson scored 10 of his points in the second. He helped extended Brooklyn's advantage to eight to close the quarter when he drilled a 3-pointer as time expired, putting the Nets up 60-52 at halftime.
The Nets held on to double-digit advantage for most of the first six minutes of the third until Andrea Bargnani buried a three to cut the deficit to nine. Toronto pulled within four with 1:01 remaining in the quarter following an Aaron Gray hook shot, but Andre Blatche answered right back with a jumper before the end of the period to put Brooklyn up 84-78.
"We came out a little bit flat there (in the second half)," Raptors guard Jose Calderon admitted. "The positive part is we came back again. It was a nice thing to see."
Ed Davis scored on a layup in the fourth to cut the Nets' lead to 84-83 with 8:46 remaining, but Toronto didn't get any closer.
Brooklyn never trailed in the second half ... The Nets won their third straight season opener ... The Raptors were outscored in the paint 52-34 ... Evans pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for Brooklyn ... Wallace left the game for the Nets late in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle. X- rays came back negative, however, and he is considered day-to-day.