On Thursday night, it looked like Brook Lopez was going to be traded to Oklahoma City. Friday night, Lopez was still a Brooklyn Net, and he scored a team-high 26 points to lead the Nets to a 102-80 win in Washington over the Wizards on Friday night.
There were serious rumors involving Lopez, the longest-tenured member of the Nets, starting his career in 2008, when they still played at the Izod Center. There is some irony here as it was announced on Thursday morning that the Izod Center will finally be closing on March 31st.
The rumor was that a three-team trade was set up between the Nets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Charlotte Hornets. Lopez would have gone to the Thunder, Lance Stephenson would have gone to the Nets from Charlotte, Kendrick Perkins would have come to the Nets from Charlotte, and Jarrett Jack would have gone to the Hornets. There were various other players involved in the deal.
By Friday morning, the trade rumors fell apart, as the Nets could not commit to it. This was the right move by Nets General Manager Billy King, as the package he would have gotten was not that great. Stevenson has done nothing in Charlotte, and the only reason they have won lately is he has been out of the lineup, and Perkins’ skills have deteriorated substantially. King at one time could have gotten Dwight Howard for Lopez, and even though he likely will not get a player of that caliber back, he can hold out for more, maybe even get some draft picks back to make up for all the ones he has traded away.
Another storyline entering the game against the Wizards on Friday night was that the Nets would be facing Paul Pierce for the first time since they let him leave in the offseason.
The Nets started off strong, jumping out to a 10-4 lead, but the Wizards finished it in a big way, with a 9-0 run to jump out to a 24-18 lead. Lopez took three fouls in the first quarter, and it was interesting Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins left him out there to rack up that many.
The Nets’ second unit did well in t he second quarter, started off by a Mirza Teletovic three, and an Alan Anderson three made it 34-30 Nets at the 5:45 mark. Pierce hit a couple of free throws to give Washington a 38-30 lead with 3:10 left, and from that point, the Nets held Washington scoreless until Andre Miller hit a couple of free throws with 22 seconds left. Jarrett Jack hit a jumper as time expired to give the Nets a 43-40 lead entering the half. they outscored Washington 25-16 in the second.
In the third, the Wizards tied it at 51 on a Pierce three with 7:39 on the clock. The Nets responded with a 12-1 run, with Lopez getting the last eight points in the run, to take a 61-52 lead with 4:18 left. They led by as many as 15, at 71-56, on a Jack layup with 27 seconds left, and took a 71-58 lead into the fourth. They outscored the Wizards 28-18 in the third, and 53-34 in the second and third quarters combined.
Lopez scored the Nets’ first eight points of the fourth quarter, and his eight-foot jumper with 7:33 left made it 79-66 Nets. Lopez hit a couple of free throws to give the Nets a 19-point lead, at 85-66, with 5:48 left, which basically sealed the game.
Lopez and Jack, the two players who would have been traded Thursday, each scored 26 points to lead the Nets. Lopez shot 8-for-14 and he made 10 out of 12 free throw attempts to account for his 26 points, and he had 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 23 minutes. Lopez did not commit a foul after the three he committed in the first quarter. Jack shot 12-for-18 and 1-2 on threes, with 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Mason Plumlee had another double-double in this one, and it was literally by the books, as he had 11 points (4-10 shooting, 3-5 on free throws) and 10 rebounds. Bogan Bogdanovic had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 32 minutes, making the most of another start. Joe Johnson had another tough night shooting, as he was just 2-for-11 from the field, including 0-1 on threes, and had just 6 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in 38 minutes.
Paul Pierce had a tough night, as he scored just 8 points on 2-for-5 shooting, all of which came from behind the arc as he was 2-5 on threes, with 6 rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals in 25 minutes. He also committed a flagrant foul on Bogdanovic on a layup in the fourth quarter.
This was the Nets’ first win in two weeks, since they won in Orlando on January 2nd to even their record at the time at 16-16. They had lost seven in a row since then, with tough losses to Miami, Boston, and Philadelphia. The Nets, who are now 17-23, meet the Wizards again tomorrow night in Brooklyn looking to gain some momentum before a three-game West Coast trip starting Wednesday night in Sacramento.