'A Lot Of People Are Counting Us Out Just Like Last Year'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Knicks-Nets rivalry is continuing to heat up.

The Nets made the more significant splash this summer, acquiring future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — along with Jason Terry — in a mega-deal that gave them one of the most talented squads in the league. They also added forward Andrei Kirilenko.

The Knicks didn’t make as many headlines as Brooklyn, but they acquired some talent in the offseason as well, bringing in Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih.

So which basketball team owns New York City?

Pierce threw a punch on Thursday by declaring in a radio interview that “it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.”

Many pundits believe that the Nets have surpassed the Knicks in talent and are primed to have a better season than their crosstown rivals.

Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith acknowledges that Brooklyn has vastly improved its roster, but he’s not ready to concede that New York is now a Nets town.

“It’s an unbelievable move for (Nets coach Jason Kidd) to have a team like that to start off his first year,’’ Smith told reporters on Thursday. “They have a great chance to compete for a title. But we’re still the marquee team in New York. A lot of people are counting us out just like last year. We have a lot to prove. We’ll come out with a lot of edge and hopefully put it to positive use on the court.’’

Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year loves the moves that New York made to bolster its roster, as the Knicks hope to improve on a season in which they won the Atlantic Division and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Beno is an unbelievable point guard,” Smith said. “He played great against us last year in Milwaukee. He’s definitely going to help because he’s a pass-first point guard and he can definitely make the open shot. Bargnani is a 7-foot guy who can shoot and post up. I think he’s one of the most underrated guys in this league so far, because he really hasn’t been able to show his talent the way he’s going to be able to in New York. That’s going to help us.”

And the nine-year veteran also believes that World Peace will provide the team with some additional toughness.

Metta is just an all-out warrior,” Smith said. “He can guard one through five. He makes the big shots. We definitely needed somebody like that on the team.”

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