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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Nets get first look at cross-river rivals

By Mike Mazzeo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The East River Rivalry is getting plenty of hype from fans and the media.

Just don’t expect any of it to come from Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams.

“It’s just another game,” Williams said Tuesday when asked about Wednesday night’s preseason contest against the New York Knicks at the Nassau Coliseum. “This rivalry with them has been getting blown up by the media, but we haven’t talked about it. We haven’t said anything about it. We’re looking forward to playing those guys and forming a rivalry, but it’s not there yet.”

Maybe Williams will change his tune come next Thursday, when the two teams face each other in their respective regular-season openers at the $1 billion Barclays Center.

Not now.

“You definitely want to go out and play well, but you don’t want to show them everything, so that’s kind of what we’re fighting with right now, because you don’t want to show them all your looks too quickly,” Williams said.

The Nets, in their first season in Brooklyn, are still looking to establish their identity, carve out their niche.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t have to do with playing the Knicks. There’s 78 other games,” Williams said. “We have a lot of other games to play than just against the Knicks to prove ourselves, so we can’t just get caught up in that. We’re gonna be excited as it is for the first game of the season and the first (regular season) game in the Barclays Center. We’ll be ready to go no matter what.”

Nets coach Avery Johnson feels a little more of the team’s rivalry against the Knicks than he did when the franchise was still playing in New Jersey.

“I think there’s a little bit more to it now that we’re in Brooklyn,” Johnson said. “I didn’t really feel it as much the last two years. I feel it a little now, and I think that has to do with more we’re a New York team now. So it’s a different ballgame.”

How come?

“Well, I mean, we get the question more than we ever have since I’ve been here. I’ve gotten asked more about this “rivalry” in the last 4-5 months than I have my first two years, so I feel more a part of it from you guys,” Johnson said. “I feel it more when we’re out and about in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I’m going to restaurants in Manhattan and guys are saying ‘Brook-lyn!’ or they’re saying, ‘The Knicks are still gonna beat you guys,’ or I’m in Brooklyn and the fans are going crazy with their Brooklyn Nets gear on and they’re saying, ‘We can’t wait to play the Knicks.’ So I think we feel it in that way, we hear it more. That’s something that we’ve gotta manage.”