Brook Lopez began the year playing at an All-Star level for the Nets last season, but the numbers he was putting up didn’t translate to very many victories.
Brooklyn was below .500 while Lopez averaged 20.7 points, six rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 31.4 minutes per game, and ended up with a record of just 7-10 in his appearances, before he went down with a foot fracture that prematurely ended his season.
The Nets managed to turn things around beginning in January, and played well the second half of the season and through the first round of the playoffs — successes that all came with Lopez out of action.
Nets GM Billy King, however, doesn’t believe that the loss of Lopez contributed to his team’s success.
Without the low post scoring threat that Lopez was on a nightly basis, the Nets looked to Joe Johnson to carry more of the load offensively, and there’s no doubting the positive results.
But it’s hard to envision Brooklyn not improving by adding Lopez back into the mix, and new head coach Lionel Hollins has enough experience to figure out the right way to utilize him.
This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.
The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.
With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.
Emphasis on “almost.”
The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.