Nets celebrate Brooklyn opening by beating Raptors

Sat Nov 3, 2012 11:46pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The Brooklyn Nets baptized their new Barclays Center home with a 107-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday as the first major professional sports team in 55 years to call Brooklyn their home.

The Nets led by 13 points in the third quarter, but had to hold off the Raptors, who closed within 97-95 with 75 seconds left before a three-point play by Brook Lopez gave Brooklyn the necessary cushion in their first game of the season.

"The experience was just absolutely amazing," said Lopez. "The crowd brought so much energy, its Brooklyn energy."

Center Lopez led the Nets with 27 points, while Kyle Lowry scored 28 points and DeMar DeRozan had 25 for Toronto, who fell to 0-2 after an opening home loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The Nets, who moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey, had been scheduled to play their home opener on Thursday against cross-city rivals the Knicks, but the game was postponed because of mass transit problems due to damage by the superstorm Sandy that hit the area on Monday.

National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern greeted the crowd, expressing concern for storm victims before declaring: "Welcome Brooklyn, USA, to the NBA."

Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams thanked the crowd for turning out given the hardships and destruction wrought by the storm and said: "We hope to represent Brooklyn right."

Williams scored 19 points and doled out nine assists in the win.

Former Brooklyn Dodgers players Ralph Branca and Joe Pignatano participated in pre-game festivities as ties to Brooklyn's fabled sporting past, dormant since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 Major League Baseball season.   Continued...

Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7) tries to pass between Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (L) and forward Gerald Wallace (R) in the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York, November 3, 2012. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine