THE PLAYOFF STAGGER CONTINUES.
It was a little less up-and-down the Nets have been accustomed to these days, and outside of a late Damian Lillard surge from downtown where he hit even the most improbable shots, the Nets held on by dominating the paint, getting the occasional three-pointer from a hot Deron Williams, and hitting their free throws.
This grade’s a bit on the high side, but it reflects that was a game the Nets needed to win with a tough upcoming schedule, and even with the Trail Blazers missing five of their key players, it was hardly a guarantee at the tip. Behind their biggest stars, Brooklyn led by double digits for nearly the entire second half. Not a bad way to spend a Monday before watching Duke-Wisconsin, right?
The stats: 32 PTS, 15-25 FG, 9 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK
It is hard to watch Brook Lopez today and not be encouraged, to be excited, to think that the Nets might actually have something between Lopez and Williams, that there’s not a body in the NBA that can stop Lopez when he’s moving and shooting like this.
There’s an odd dominance Lopez has when he just takes over games: it’s like the entire game is being created around him, and he’s just waiting inside until someone finds him in the right position. He’s not a point guard running the show, or an athletic wing curling around screens before exploding over the rim for a slam dunk. He’s like a release valve: the Nets run all sorts of misdirection, wait until he’s rolled into position, and he flips the ball in the basket like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
For a moment, let’s not worry about Brook Lopez’s contract situation, or his future with the Nets or in the NBA. For now, let’s just enjoy that we’re watching one of the NBA’s great scorers dominate without any physical or psychological barriers.
And he did it against his twin brother!