Brook Lopez ignited the Barclays Center crowd with a game-winning, one-legged fade-away over Arron Baynes in the Nets’ 98-96 victory. While the Nets let a double-digit lead slip away in the fourth quarter, Lopez’ fourth quarter heroics helped notch their 14th win of the season. Tobias Harris tied the game with just over two seconds to go off of an offensive rebound, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. Lopez curled around an Isaiah Whitehead screen off of the inbounds pass at the other end before nailing the game-winning shot to take a serious hit at the Pistons’ playoff hopes.
While Brooklyn is well out of playoff contention, Lopez didn’t downplay the Nets desire to win games during the stretch run of the NBA season during the postgame interview. With more wins like this tonight, the Nets look to continue to improve ahead of what should be a busy offseason. The team will have ample money to spend and hope to entice free agents with a late season push. Nights like tonight will surely grab the attention of restricted free agents — perhaps Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? — and maybe give Brooklyn a look.
Brooklyn trailed by 8 after the first frame due to strong play from the aforementioned Long Island product Harris, who scored 12 points in the first frame. Spencer Dinwiddie was the backbone of the Nets’ offense as he contributed eight points in the quarter and grabbed four boards in the first quarter.
The Nets held strong in the second quarter by holding the Pistons to just 13 points in the second quarter on 5-21 shooting. Brooklyn outscored the Pistons 28-13 in the second in route to a 50-44 halftime lead. The Nets’ bench was key to the team’s first half success, outscoring the Piston’s second unit 21-6. K.J. McDaniels played his finest half of basketball, shooting 3-4 from the field for 7 points to go along with a block of the Pistons’ Reggie Jackson.
The Nets controlled much of the third quarter and much of the fourth before squandering a double-digit lead. The Nets and Pistons traded three-pointers in the closing minutes, with Lopez hitting a pair of them and Caris LeVert adding one himself. But Marcus Morris’ late jumper tied it up with under a minute before LeVert was able to give the Nets a 96-94 lead from the free throw line.
The Nets squandered an opportunity to make it a double-digit lead with under 20 seconds left, leading to Harris’ game-tying shot. Of course, as they say, the rest was history and Brook Lopez gave the Nets their second buzzer beating win in a season that has been filled with heartbreaking, buzzer-beating losses.
The stats: 10 PTS, 3-9 FG, 8 REB, 4 AST, 2 BLK
Spencer Dinwiddie was all over the place in the first half, recording 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Though he had his struggles shooting the ball and lacks the ability to space the floor at times, he kept the offense moving in the absence of Jeremy Lin. With Lin’s status up in the air for the foreseeable future, Dinwiddie has been tabbed as the starting point guard. Kenny Atkinson’s continued faith is a good sign for Dinwiddie’s prospects as the team’s backup point guard and his future with the team.
The stats: 29 PTS, 13-24 FG, 3-9 3PT, 7 REB
Brook Lopez for the win!
Lopez turned what was already a productive night against one of the league’s elite centers in Andre Drummond into an unforgettable one as he drained the game-winning shot after Tobias Harris tied it up late. Lopez had an off-night from deep, but otherwise was the Nets’ most important player as he is most nights. Without Lopez’ fourth quarter heroics, the Nets would have squandered a double-digit lead and inevitably led to another disappointing loss. Instead, the fans left the Barclays Center happy as the Nets won their fourth game in March.
The stats: 15 PTS, 5-8 FG, 3-4 3PT
Caris LeVert continues to give fans hope for the future.
The rookie had another efficient game as he racks up a collection of standout performances in the final weeks of the NBA regular season. LeVert proved to have ice in his veins as he drilled several important shots in the final minutes of the fourth, including two free throws that gave them a 96-94 lead. Sean Marks likely won’t regret trading Thaddeus Young for the Michigan product, who seems to be a perfect fit in Kenny Atkinson’s offense as well as a long-term fit in Brooklyn.