Moments before tipoff, Shawn Kemp grabbed a microphone and on behalf of his teammates thanked Cavs fans for coming to the game. Then he went out and sold a few more tickets.
Kemp, who carried the Cavs last year when center Zydrunas Ilgauskas went down with a season-ending injury, once again did it all as Cleveland made it a winning home debut for first-year coach Randy Wittman.
But Kemp knows the quickest way to pack the place is by winning.
"We need to win every game here in Cleveland to get people back in the stands. That's the most people I can remember seeing here in a while," he said of the announced crowd of 16,777.
"That was the most disappointing thing when I came here from Seattle where we were always sold out. Last year, we got off to a bad start and it got worse. Hopefully, we can continue to win and people will get excited."
Stephon Marbury led the Nets with 27 points, but shot just 7-for-25 from the floor and had six turnovers and just one assist. Keith Van Horn added 20 points and Jamie Feick had 13 rebounds for New Jersey, which shot just 34 percent fro the field.
"My shots were there, they just didn't go down," said Marbury, who went just 15-for-34 in an opening-night loss to Indiana. "I didn't think I forced shots except maybe twice when the clock was running down."
None of the Nets accused Marbury of shooting too much, but a few talked about the importance of moving the ball around more.
"We need to swing the ball around and use more of the floor," Van Horn said. "We were too much on one side of the court all night. We had a lot of makable shots, we just didn't make them."
Wesley Person's 3-pointer with 5:53 left gave the Cavs an 83-77 lead before Marbury brought the Nets back by scoring 11 straight points to bring New Jersey within 87-86.
Knight's baseline jumper with 1:58 remaining gave Cleveland a 91-88 lead and, after Marbury was called for a charging foul on New Jersey's next possession, Kemp grabbed a rebound in traffic and was fouled.
He made both free throws to put the Cavs up by five points and, after another Marbury miss, DeClercq sealed it with a thunderous dunk.
"There were a lot of fans here tonight and we wanted to give them a good show," Knight said. "We wanted to show them that we are for real."
Sura, who has been booed mercilessly at home the past two seasons by Cavs fans unhappy with his play and long contract, scored nine points in a 17-1 run that helped Cleveland open a 69-54 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
But with Marbury on the bench, the Nets cut it to 80-77 with 6:26 left in the game on two free throws by Van Horn.
Despite making just one of their first 16 shots from the floor and 4-of-21 in the second quarter, the Nets trailed by only 46-41 at halftime.
Marbury, who attempted 34 shots on Tuesday night, was 1-for-10 from the field before hitting two straight jumpers and scoring six straight points during an 8-0 run late in the half that brought New Jersey within 42-39.
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