Knicks win battle, but Nets nab N.Y.'s finest

NEW YORK -- Iman Shumpert got his Knicks teammates jumping out of their seats on the bench when he shook Paul Pierce, who lost his footing and stumbled to the floor.

Later, Toure' Murry threw an alley-oop pass off the glass to a trailing Shumpert for a rim-rattling dunk.

Giddy Knicks fans who made the trek across the river to Barclays stood and applauded Mike Woodson’s team at the end of a 109-98 win over the Nets.

The Knicks wanted this game more. And throttling a completely disinterested Nets team gave them and their fans a sense of satisfaction for at least one night.

“Hell yeah,” Knicks shooter J.R. Smith said of whether beating the Nets meant something to him. “I’m cool with some of those guys over there, so I can still say something when we’re in the gym this summer.

“As long as I can say they didn’t beat us that many times, then we’re good.”

The Knicks won the season series from the Nets 3-1. And they won the three games by an average of 23.3 points.

But the Nets won the battle of which team is the best in town. That’s because the Knicks’ summer starts on Thursday. While the Knicks clean out their lockers, the Nets will be preparing for a playoff series this weekend.

“Good for us, good for our brand, good for Brooklyn basketball," point guard Deron Williams told reporters on Tuesday morning about being the last New York team standing this season. "It's part of the takeover."

Forget all the talk last offseason about how the Nets will convert Knicks fans into Brooklyn fans and run this town.

A Nets takeover will take years to complete, and it will take years of winning consistently. And even if the Knicks kept losing, the Nets would likely have to win a championship to seriously steal fans away from the Knicks.

But what really matters right now is that the Nets are the ones playing in the postseason. After Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks and Phil Jackson officially start focusing their attention on keeping Carmelo Anthony.

That, of course, would have been made easier if the Knicks were contending for a championship. When this season began, there was so much excitement about how good of a year it was going to be for New York hoops.

The Knicks, coming off a 54-win season, were looking to take a step forward. The Nets traded for Pierce and Kevin Garnett and had legit championship aspirations for the first time since Jason Kidd was throwing alley-oops off the glass to Kenyon Martin against the Knicks.

But both teams got off to dreadful starts. Only one team got its act together after New Year’s Eve. And now only one team in the area moves on.

And that’s a crusher for the Knicks, who will have to watch the Nets play on TV.

“I’m a basketball guy, I watch basketball, that's what I do,” Woodson said. “This year is going to be tough, sitting at home watching basketball. I didn't envision that happening with our team. That's going to be the tough part behind it. I'll watch Jason. I wish all coaches nothing but the best.”

Anthony, who didn’t play due to his injured shoulder, would probably pay max money to trade places with Paul Pierce and the Nets.

“It’s that time of year when you get the chills,” he said. “It’s that sort of time when the weather is getting warmer. It’s an exciting time of year. Everybody loves being in the playoffs.”

Pierce was frustrated after the loss, but not because the Knicks were running and dunking all over the Nets. While Kidd has been resting select players for the past few games to stay healthy, the Nets are playing like it’s the preseason right now.

“Going into the playoffs, you want to start building habits and tonight was an example of how not to take a step forward,” Pierce said. “We were off our game -- offensively, defensively, all phases of the game. That is not how you want to go into the playoffs. No excuses about it. We got to be better.”

At least the Nets still have a chance to do something about the way they’ve been playing. After Wednesday, the Knicks can’t do anything more about the 2013-14 season.

As Pierce said, it’s that special time of the year. The Knicks can feel good about stomping the Nets one last time for this season before going fishing.

The Nets? They got bigger fish to fry than the Knicks.

And that’s all you need to know about who won the battle of New York this season.