It seemed doomed from the start. The Nets didn’t score for the first four minutes, went down 12-0 and 16-3, trailed by 12 at the half despite a scoring outburst from Brook Lopez, and looked primed for yet another listless loss.
But the script switched in the second half, in what was possibly their most inspiring game of the season: despite struggling to stop Toronto’s intense offensive balance and pressure, Brooklyn strung together a surprisingly well-paced attack, getting big contributions from four of their starters and a huge performance from the starting point guard to claw back in in the fourth quarter, sending the game to overtime in what originally seemed like a lost cause.
It was one of the most exciting games of the year, and it still ended in a heartwrenching Nets loss.
With the loss, the Nets went the entire month of January without winning a single home game, the last time they’d done that since they were the New Jersey Nets in February 2010, the year they went 12-70.
The stats: 35 PTS, 15-28 FG, 12 REB, 3 STL
With the game tied at 113 and 1.3 seconds left, the Raptors miscommunicated on a defensive switch, leaving Lopez wide open at the top of the key for what should’ve been the game-winning jumper. But Lopez faded just a bit on the look, and the shot fell short, sending the game to overtime.
Nonetheless, it was a dominant offensive performance from Lopez akin to his 2012-13 year: scored in a variety of ways, from post-ups to dump-offs, dribble-drives to jumpers.
Lopez struggled defensively on a number of possessions, and the Raptors took advantage of his lack of quickness to get some layups at the rim.
But without Lopez pouring on the points early (19 in the first half) and late (on late layups in the fourth quarter), the Nets head for another boring, uncompetitive loss.
As mentioned above, he may not start games over Kevin Garnett. But he’s ended them. That matters.