NEW YORK (AP) — Brooklyn made a winning return to major pro sports on Saturday night, as the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 107-100 in the first game at Barclays Center.
After a fifty-five year wait that was extended a couple of extra days by Superstorm Sandy, the borough finally has a team of its own again, and the Nets think it's going to be a good one.
Brook Lopez scored 27 points and Deron Williams added 19 points and nine assists for the Nets. C.J. Watson finished with 15 points and Joe Johnson had 14.
A sold-out crowd of 17,732 that included entertainers Jay-Z, a part-owner, and wife Beyonce chanted "Brooklyn! Brooklyn!" 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.
Kyle Lowry had 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Raptors, who fell to 0-2. DeMar DeRozan added 25 points.
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.
The Nets 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.
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 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. Billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov said the Nets have the "best arena in the NBA and a competitive team."
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 and led 60-52 at halftime.
Notes: Wallace hurt his left ankle trying to block a shot in the final minutes and was getting X-rays. ... Nets reserve Josh Childress sat out with a sore left ankle and coach Avery Johnson said he doubted Childress would play Monday against Minnesota, either.