Can Brook Lopez and the Nets pounce on the Heat?


Opponent: Miami Heat
Location: Barclays Center
Time: 7:30 pm EDT
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO app

So… Who saw that coming?

After Winter Storm Jonas took hold of New York last weekend, Brookzilla invaded Barclays Center and dominated the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, extinguishing their seven-game winning streak with a 116-106 victory. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, which followed a feeble eight-point, three-rebound performance just two days earlier against the Utah Jazz. The Nets offense was sharp, and they matched the Thunder’s athleticism all game despite typical performances from their two stars: Kevin Durant (31 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) and Russell Westbrook (27 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists).

“Our guys heeded the message, shared the ball, moving, moving bodies and the floor opened up for us,” Head Coach Tony Brown said. “Whenever we didn’t have anything like that we were able to go to Brook and get touches around the basket. I enjoyed seeing 116 points. I can’t bank on that every night, but to see that, see that kind of pace, it’s rewarding.”

Another high-scoring performance may be tough tonight with the defensive-minded Miami Heat visiting Brooklyn, but a win may be in the cards considering their recent skid. Entering last night’s game in Chicago, the Heat had lost seven of eight games, including a four-game stretch in which they averaged only 80.8 points per game. The funk has coincided with a four-week schedule that started on January 8th that renders 14 road games and only two home games.

So far the Heat have gone 3-7 and have dropped to 2.5 games in their division behind the Atlanta Hawks, after being atop the division for the first two months of the season. Playing without starting point guard Goran Dragic for the past six games hasn’t helped matters either; he’s tentatively scheduled to return to action on Friday.

Things turned around last night in Chicago, as the Heat beat the Bulls 89-84 behind Dwyane Wade’s 28 points and Chris Bosh’s 18. Center Hassan Whiteside missed his second straight game with a sore oblique and is questionable for tonight’s game. Amar’e Stoudemire started in his place, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.

This will be the third of four meetings between the Nets and Heat, with each team winning on the road. In their last meeting on December 28th in Miami, the Nets overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to beat the Heat 111-105. The Nets were helped out by season-highs in three pointers (12) and free throws made (27) despite shooting just 43.2 percent from the field; it marked the Nets’ only victory of the season in a game in which they were outshot by their opponent. Wayne “Give Him The Ball” Ellington led the Nets with 26 points off the bench (23 in the second half), shooting 7-of-9 from three point range. Lopez added 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Nets’ 67 second-half points were also a season-high for points in a half.

Milestone watch: Joe Johnson is three 3-pointers shy of 500 made 3-pointers with the Nets. He would join Jason Kidd (813), Kerry Kittles (687), and Vince Carter (638) as players to make 500-plus threes in a Nets uniform.