We have a playoff race!
Slowly but surely, nearly 60 games into the season, you can see the framework of a playoff team start to form. Okay, maybe a low-seeded playoff team, but nonetheless: this Nets team, after 50-some-odd games of stagnancy with a few fine performances dotted in, now has athleticism, skill, versatility, and a certain modicum of competitiveness that seemed distant before the All-Star break.
The Mavericks haven’t been a perennial contender with Rajon Rondo, and they were without two of their key contributors, but make no mistake: this is a very good Western Conference team that the Nets just defeated, on the second half of a back-to-back and on the very end of an eight-game road trip.
The stats: 7 PTS, 3-7 FG, 5 REB, 3 PF
Thought he defended the pick-and-roll better than you’d expect heading into the game; with Tyson Chandler sidelined, the Mavericks didn’t have anyone wildly explosive for Lopez to match up against, and his biggest struggles just came with controlling Amar’e Stoudemire in the paint.
Offensively, Lopez didn’t look anything like the guy that dropped 38 points on this team two years ago — outside of one quick pick-and-roll finish in the first half and a late putback ,Lopez didn’t get any offense going towards the paint, where he best thrives.