Updated: November 27, 2012, 2:22 PM ET

1. Imagine These Teams In A Playoff Series

By Brian Windhorst
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- On its own merit, the first-ever New York intra-borough meeting was as entertaining as regular-season basketball usually gets in the Eastern Conference.

It featured All-Stars dueling, career-highs, career-worsts, possession-by-possession drama, the tension of a last-second shot and, ultimately, overtime.

But the true revelation of the Brooklyn Nets' 96-89 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night was that all signs point to this being the start of a true rivalry.

Wallace/Anthony
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesThis is looking like a serious rivalry.

Not a marketing rivalry, though suits have been working on it for years now. Not a spatial or culture rivalry, the gentrifying town across the East River challenging the old guard in a battle-for-new-fans narrative that has been developing.

No, an honest basketball team vs. basketball team rivalry that promises at least four entertaining matchups and the specter of a playoff series that could prove epic.

The Nets (9-4) and Knicks (9-4), two teams fresh off successful makeovers that are zooming toward the top in the East, looked like fantastic foils for one another in their first meeting.

Playing in front of a crowd at Barclays Center -- a 20-minute subway ride from Madison Square Garden -- that featured dueling cheers and jeers, there was nothing phony or forced about this new matchup. There was strong evidence these teams could turn every meeting into a high-drama affair for the foreseeable future. With added spice of the games in Brooklyn potentially creating one of the league's unique atmospheres as the Nets' new fans actually give them what finally feels like a bit of a home-court advantage.

"When I first got here it was 80 percent [Knicks fans] to 20 percent [Nets fans] at our home games," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "We're trying to come in here and gain some territorial rights and they're going to try to do everything they can to push back."

There was no doubt the Knicks wanted to win. Coach Mike Woodson played Carmelo Anthony 50 minutes, Tyson Chandler 42 and both Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith more than 40 on the second night of a back-to-back. This was not just another game, and the way it played out, it seems doubtful it will be considered one for a while.

One of the reasons these two teams could prove so intriguing is how they match up with each other. Watching Gerald Wallace battle Anthony on defense was almost a game within a game. We saw Wallace fighting Anthony for position, trying to get physical with him as Anthony tried to push back with his well-known array of moves and tricks to create space.

Anthony scored 34 points and ended up with 13 rebounds, nine of them in the fourth quarter when he was chasing the ball like it was an elimination game. But Wallace helped force him to just 2-of-9 shooting in the final quarter and overtime, including a missed jumper with less than five seconds left in regulation. Wallace respond with a season-high 16 points as well.

There was also the Brook Lopez-Tyson Chandler affair that provided numerous highlights as the game unfolded. Chandler exploited Lopez regularly on the pick-and-roll game that is often a thorn for Lopez, who also got beat for numerous offensive rebounds. Chandler ended up with a career-high 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting.

At the other end, the Nets weren't afraid to isolate Lopez with Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. And while Chandler got the best of Lopez at the end of regulation by drawing a charge on a key possession, Lopez got the last laugh by scoring on Chandler in a pivotal possession on Chandler in overtime. When it was over, Lopez had 22 points and ended up beating Chandler in rebounds (11-10) and blocks (5-0).

"No question this will be a fun game every time out," Lopez said. "The proximity, the build up and the fans make it something. Having two great teams in New York, the fans are in the best position of all."

The Knicks no doubt missed Jason Kidd, who sat out with back spasms. The way the Nets attacked the Knicks' guards, especially looking to exploit size advantages on Raymond Felton, having Kidd and his ability to defend probably would've only increased the number of entertaining possessions.

Deron Williams, who had 16 points and 14 assists thanks to a series of high-difficulty passes under duress, was a bit lacking in an opposite number. Felton had a miserable game, shooting just 3-of-19 with as many turnovers (five) as assists.

There were graybeards Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse firing up 3-pointers -- Stackhouse won this round decisively, going 4-of-5 while Wallace went 2-of-6 -- and talking trash to each other from the bench.

Combined, it was enough to make the viewer want to look up when the next meeting will be. Which is on Dec. 11, back in Brooklyn on ESPN. If this truly was the start of what it looked like it could be, that might turn out to be appointment TV.

"This is what we've been dreaming about since I've been here," Johnson said. "It's a nice feeling and we rewarded ourselves with a victory."


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