Williams scored a season-high 29 points, and the Nets beat the Knicks 110-99 on Friday night in the first meeting this season between the city rivals.
Brook Lopez added 20 points and nine rebounds, and Joe Johnson scored 18 for the Nets, who had beaten the Knicks just once on their home floor since moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012. The Knicks had won the previous three meetings here, but the Nets clearly looked like the best team in the Big Apple on this night.
That was largely because of Williams, who had offseason surgery on both ankles after battling problems ever since the Nets changed addresses.
"Last two years have been a struggle," Williams said. "They're behind me now, looking forward to this one and we got a great win tonight."
Williams had only one 30-point game last season but might have gotten there Friday night if this one had been close and he had to play more. The former All-Star danced around the Knicks on 10-of-15 shooting with six assists.
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points but shot 5-of-20 for the Knicks, who dropped their third in a row. They came in 29th in the NBA in scoring at 89.8 points per game, but the bigger problem was a defense that allowed the Nets to shoot 51 percent from the field and make 14 of 24 3-pointers (58 percent).
"I thought that kept us in the lead. Every time they made a run, we'd hit a 3," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.
"The shooting was spectacular."
With point guards Jose Calderon (strained right calf) and Pablo Prigioni (sprained right ankle) sidelined, the Knicks started Tim Hardaway Jr. in the backcourt with Iman Shumpert. Hardaway scored 16 points, and Shumpert had 11.
The crowd was divided as usual, although the Nets fans were much louder as the lead grew, while filmmaker and Knicks fan Spike Lee sat glumly near the Knicks' bench for much of the second half.
There were high hopes for the rivalry when the Nets moved to Brooklyn, and the teams split four meetings that first season with plenty of trash talk the following summer. But it was a dud last season, when none of the four games was close.
This one was more of the same, with the Nets making their first five 3-pointers in racing to a 30-20 lead after one quarter. They shot only 5-of-17 overall in the second but still pushed their lead to 55-42 at halftime.
A 9-2 burst out of the locker room made it 64-44 on a three-point play by Lopez, and the Nets were comfortably ahead from there.
"We've got to put out a lot more effort on the defensive end for sure," Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire said. "We're still learning the offense, but in the process of doing that, we've got to make sure we have the effort defensively. We're letting the offense affect us defensively and we've got to stop that."
Knicks: Hardaway started one game last season as a rookie. ... The Knicks wore their home white uniforms. ... Stoudemire had 14 points off the bench.
Nets: Kevin Garnett grabbed five rebounds and has 14,243 in his career, passing Walt Bellamy for ninth place on the all-time list. ... Mike D of the Beastie Boys announced the Nets' starters. ... The Nets honored former owner Lewis Katz during a first-half ceremony that included NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Katz died in a plane crash in June.
FROM LITTLE ROCK TO THE BIG APPLE
Derek Fisher joked before the game that Johnson must be good, since he's from Arkansas. Johnson said he first met Fisher in the mid-1990s, when the Knicks coach was playing on a summer league team back home with former University of Arkansas standouts such as Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman, and they are friends. "You've got two country boys from Little Rock, Arkansas, who are in the big city, enjoying life, so I don't wish no ill will on the man," Johnson said. "I wish him the best. That's my guy."
Knicks: Visit Atlanta on Saturday.
Nets: Host Orlando on Sunday.
- John Goble
- David Guthrie
- Kevin Scott
- Byron Scott