Irving, Nets hold off Knicks in Big Apple NBA battle

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The Nets, out to make Brooklyn the center of New York City's NBA universe, edged the Knicks 113-109 Friday, but not before a fourth-quarter dogfight.

Brooklyn's new star Kyrie Irving didn't match the 50 points he dropped in a heartbreaking season-opening loss to Minnesota, but his 26 points included a step-back three-pointer with 22.4 seconds to play that gave the Nets a 111-109 lead that they wouldn't give up.

The shot, which drew comparisons to his game-winer in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals for Cleveland, followed on the heels of his pull-up basket as the Nets -- who had led from opening tip to the final five minutes -- thwarted the Knicks' comeback bid.

Irving ramped up the Big Apple rivalry on Thursday when he said at a promotional event that the Nets were "going to take over the whole city.

"It's about us," said Irving, who was booed by Knicks fans who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge for the game at the Barclays Center.

Nets fans had their say as well, with taunting reminders that it was Brooklyn that won the off-season free agent contest with the acquisition of Irving and former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant -- who is still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that marred the end of his tenure at Golden State.

Allonzo Trier's 22 points helped the Knicks roar back from 19 points down to take a three-point lead with 3:41 to play, but Irving scored five straight to stem the tide.

The Knicks had a chance to tie it at the end, but Julius Randle lost the ball under the basket and Spencer Dinwiddie -- who scored 20 points off the bench for Brooklyn -- made two free throws to seal it.

- T-Wolves win again -

There was no let-down for the Minnesota Timberwolves after their one-point overtime victory over the Nets on Wednesday in the face of Irving's 50-point explosion.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 37 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and handed out eight assists as the Timberwolves won their second straight -- 121-99 over the Charlotte Hornets.

Towns connected on 13 of 18 shots from the field, making four three-pointers.

Andrew Wiggins added 16 points for the Timberwolves, who broke open a close game in the third quarter when the out-scored the Hornets 45-25.

In Boston, Kemba Walker scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won a tense battle with the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors 112-106.

Two days after falling to the 76ers in Philadelphia, the Celtics got off to a slow start in their home season-opener but came alive offensively in the second half to withstand a Raptors challenge that included 33 points for Pascal Siakam and 29 for Kyle Lowry.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 25 points apiece for the Celtics.

Walker, who endured a four-of-18 performance against Philadelphia, missed his first six attempts but made a solid defensive contribution until his shots began to fall later.

"It was everything I imagined," Walker said of his first game in Boston as a Celtic since his move from Charlotte.

"These fans are incredible. First half I felt their energy -- I was a little bit hyped and the adrenaline was pumping. I just needed to calm down."