The Nets and the Raptors just seem to bring out the best in each other — or, at the very least, the best entertainment in each other.
It was a battle of the eerily athletic Nets against the shotmaking Raptors, who hit equal parts tough jumpers and open dunks off of Nets defensive breakdowns. The Nets rode a “big 3” of Deron Williams (quick, strong, hitting open shots), Thaddeus Young (athletic, crafty, speedy) and Brook Lopez (putbacks, floaters, and dunks galore).
It went right down to the wire, as does seemingly every Nets game these days, but the Nets pulled away thanks to some big shots by the aforementioned three players, and a clear-path foul to let Joe Johnson clinch the game with free throws.
Perhaps the most crucial development of the night: Deron Williams played the entire second half, hitting one of the game’s biggest shots, and leading the team to victory.
A man possessed by a scoring monster.
Despite Lionel Hollins recently saying Lopez wasn’t a dominant post-up player, Lopez went into the post on multiple occasions with success Friday night. But he was at his best cleaning up the glass, as he’s done at ridiculous rates this season.
This is a dominant version of Brook Lopez: staying in the paint, throwing down slams, chasing loose missed shots, and scoring through contact inside.
There were issues. Toronto drew Lopez over on help defense on too many occasions, without anyone to help Lopez’s back, and the Raptors got their share of easy dunks as a result. But it was hard to tell if schematically the Nets were supposed to have someone help down on Lopez’s man, or if Lopez was coming to help too early.
But when he takes defenders like Tyler Hansbrough off the dribble and just pops shots over them, it’s like a 16-year-old dunking on a preteen.