Somehow, Brook Lopez’s blocked shot sinks the Nets against the Pistons — yeah, unfortunately, there’s no typo there.
For many, this was supposed to be an epic showdown between two of the Eastern Conference’s best centers, instead, it was the likes of Ersan Ilysova, Stanley Johnson, Shane Larkin, and Andrea Bargnani that took center stage. Of course, that’s not to say that Brook Lopez and Andre Drummond weren’t incredible — no, not at all, but we expected that.
Can you say you expected 7 first-half assists for Larkin? What about Ellington going 3-3 from downtown? Yes, we’ve become accustomed to Lopez’s sheer dominance, but what about the smaller players? It’s tough to know which members of the Nets will play on into 2017, but mini-auditions like this help make the lost season more manageable.
Lopez, who has mastered the Yao Ming mid-range at this point, was terrorizing first-time All-Star Andre Drummond. And he, for all his rebounding prowess, could not guard Lopez for the life of him. Elsewhere, Joe Johnson, no longer in the month of January, struggled and not even in his poor-from-the-field-but-five-plus-assists-and-rebounds kind of way.
The third quarter was quiet other than a few Thaddeus Young highlights, but the Nets, and their bench, held their own against the currently eighth-seeded Pistons. And yet, it just wasn’t enough as the measured, balanced attack of Detroit (Morris, Ilyasova, Drummond, Caldwell-Pope, Jackson, and Johnson all finished in double-digit scoring) was nearly too much.
Thanks to the combined superpowers of Larkin (14 assists) and Andrea Bargnani (18 points), the Nets hung around into the late fourth. Despite a few untimely turnovers and missed lay-ups (hey, T-Rob), Brooklyn was still in the position to surge with the starters back on the floor.
Following a Young alley-oop and back-to-back-to-back tough Lopez buckets, the Nets actually took a 98-95 lead with 2 minutes left. But the gritty effort was just not meant to be after Reggie Jackson and Drummond pushed their lead to 4 with 51 seconds. If it wasn’t that kind of night before then, it was officially was when they sealed it on a Jackson floater… that Lopez blocked… that still went in.
That kind of night? Try that kind of season.
The stats: 27 PTS, 13-19 FG, 5 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 0 TOV
This is a completely non-biased statement, but is Brook Lopez one of the NBA’s most fun players to watch? Sure, you’ve got your Boogies, Currys, and Kawhis, but there’s something so exciting about watching Lopez methodically work through his brilliant skill-set.
Spinning drives? Confident mid-range swishes? Corner three-pointers? (OK, he didn’t hit that one, but…) Every night is another opportunity to see something new from his bag of tricks.
In the fourth, Lopez went to work against Drummond, cooly flipping up a baseline jumper before ramming his way past him on the next possession. The Brook Lopez Experience: you never know what you’re gonna get.
We’re used to Lopez getting the All-Star snub, but he’ll forever be one in our hearts.