The Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-99 on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, led by 30 points from Brook Lopez.
With the win, the Nets (32-40) moved into eighth place, passing the Boston Celtics (32-41), who lost at home to the other Los Angeles team, the Clippers, 119-106. The Nets are also a half game ahead of the Indiana Pacers (32-41), and they host Indiana at Barclays Center on Tuesday night. The Nets are 3-1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks (36-37) for sixth place, and 1-1/2 games behind the Miami Heat (34-39) for seventh.
Lopez led the way with 30 points on 13-for-22 from the field, 11 rebounds, four blocks, and an assist. This capped a week in which Lopez averaged 28.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in their four games. He scored 30 or more points in three of the games, including against Boston on the 23rd, Charlotte on the 25th, and this game. He wast the first Net to have three 30-point games in a week since he did it himself in April of 2011. He had a double-double in two games, at Charlotte and against the Lakers.
Lopez said of the rhythm he is in offensively, “We’ve been great as a team. I thought my focus was a little off tonight; I was a little disappointed in myself. But team-wise, we’ve been moving the ball very well and we’ve been playing together. We’ve all been aggressive and confident in each other.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of Lopez’s consistency, “I think our game is consistent. He knows where he’s gonna get shots. We’re playing toward him a lot in our game – and he’s delivered – he’s played big-time basketball. When you get 30+ points, and in the way he’s doing it night in and night out, that’s huge for us.”
Markel Brown had a big game, with a season-high 17 points on 6-for-11 from the field, 2-7 on threes, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in 36 minutes, far above the norm for him. Hollins said of Brown’s breakthrough and what he has seen in the past couple of games, “Well, last game – nothing. But tonight he made shots and he was aggressive. Yesterday at practice – I guess it was yesterday – he really was shooting the ball well, and I just walked over and I told him, ‘you’ve got to shoot with that kind of confidence in the game. Just play. If they put someone that can’t guard you on you, just drive to the basket and make a play, whether it’s scoring or not.’ And he came out and he played that way, and it was good to see. You know, Bogie (Bojan Bogdanovic) got in foul trouble early and wasn’t really in it. I thought the groups that I kept on the court were the better defensive groups that I thought we were going to need in order to win tonight, and it turned out to be true.”
On whether Markel hitting his jumpers means he can drive to the basket better, Hollins said, “Yes, it does. Because anytime you can make jumpers and you’ve got that kind of athleticism, it makes you quicker.”
Hollins said of the final stretch of the game, “Well, we executed and we got stops. Jordan Hill was hurting us big-time, and we wound up putting Joe (Johnson) at four, putting Alan (Anderson) back in the game, Markel back in the game, and Brook did a decent job. I think he (Hill) only scored two points when Brook was guarding him down the stretch, and we forced him into some tough shots. We got rebounds and we earned a win with a good team effort. I told those guys, I said, ‘you know, it’s not like these guys have known that for a long time they were not going to go to the playoffs, but they’re resting guys and playing other guys and giving guys a shot to show what they can do. So they’re going to play hard, and we’ve got to win the game.’ And ultimately, we did.”
Lopez said on whether he feels they should have put away the Lakers earlier in the game, “Yeah, we could have, but we knew they were going to keep fighting. They’re all NBA players here and they have a lot of season left so they’re not just going to throw away this game.”