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Nets 107, Lakers 99: Lopez And Johnson Finding A Rhythm

What a basketball game! It had everything you could possibly want in a Brooklyn Nets-Los Angeles Lakers game; air balled layups, air balled jumpshots, players falling all over each other and Robert Sacre. The win pulled the Nets into a tie for the eight seed with the Boston Celtics. A Celtics loss tonight would give the Nets sole possession of the eight seed.

Lionel Hollins squad could have won by more than eight, but as usual they make nothing easy. They allowed the Lakers to hang around until the end when they pulled away thanks to a huge Joe Johnson three and free throws. 

Jordan Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Wesley Johnson were the three players that kept this game from getting out of hand. Clarkson ate up the poor defense from the Nets point guards, while Johnson was finding success driving to the basket or cutting hard off the ball.

The Nets bench struggled mightily in this game, which was a big part of the Lakers hanging around. New signing Earl Clark struggled from the field shooting 2-10 and 0-5 from three. Bojan Bogdanovich was struggling on defense and from the field so he was limited to 9 minutes by Coach Lionel Hollins. Alan Anderson was the lone bright spot off the bench. He was challenging the Laker wings on defense and hit 3 three pointers.

It’s no secret that Brook Lopez has been on a tear lately. In the last six games Lopez has averaged 29 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. He has been a big part of the Nets going 7-3 over the last 10 games and he was the reason for the Nets victory over the Lakers.

Lopez had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Lakers tankerrific front line of Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. The Nets were force feeding him in all of his 40 minutes, which led to 13-22 shooting from the field and 4-8 shooting from the free throw line. Lopez is taller, more skilled and smarter than any of the defenders Byron Scott threw at him so the Nets took advantage.

Joe Johnson followed his 20 point, 9 assist and 5 rebound performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers with an equally as impressive 18 point, 8 rebound and 7 assist game showing against the Lakers. The Nets found a one-two punch with Johnson and Lopez and ran with it. Since Thad Young is out and the Plumlee/Lopez combo is not good together, Johnson was playing power forward against the Lakers and taking advantage of their weak defense. 

As long as Lopez is playing like this Joe Johnson can thrive next to him. Lopez has opened up the rest of the offense and Johnson is taking every advantage. While the Lakers swarmed to Lopez in the post, Johnson was able to find open threes or hit cutters to the basket. Markel Brown and Deron Williams were finding open lanes to the basket or open midrange jumpers thanks to Lopez’s presence on the floor.

Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are the Nets best players right now and they’re playing perfectly off one another. The Nets need both of them playing like this if they want to fight their way into the playoffs.

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Nets 106, Cavaliers 98: The Lopez-Plumlee Combo

Yeah, that just happened. Taking on the red-hot Cavaliers who have won eight of their last nine games, Brooklyn stood up to the East’s second seed and came away victorious 106-98 behind a huge effort from the bench.

54 of the Nets’ 106 points (over half) came from the pine, with Bojan Bogdanovic scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting in another impressive night. Jarrett Jack scored 16 in revenge game fashion while Alan Anderson chipped in 13. Earl Clark made his Nets debut in the second half and scored a quick seven points on three deep jumpers, a pleasant surprise from the vagabond tweener.

The starting five wasn’t vacant of big nights, however. Brook Lopez scored 20 points and grabbed nine boards and Joe Johnson had one of his best games in some time, scoring 20 as well while dishing a Nets career-high nine dimes.

Brooklyn had few answers for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LeBron James, who combined for 68 of Cleveland’s 98 points, but the “big three” couldn’t carry the Cavs to a W on this night.

Cleveland jumped to a 7-2 start before the Nets responded with their three-point shooting to keep pace offensively. Scoring was the theme of the night for both teams, as little defense was being played. Early turnovers were keeping the Nets in the backseat, until a big second quarter (yes, a big second quarter) gave Brooklyn control. After going up nine, Cleveland would do what Cleveland does and cut the deficit to a slim margin at the break. The second half included more basket-trading, until a late 9-2 run by the Nets sealed the deal.

But what did the Nets do without Thaddeus Young in the lineup? Plus-minus king Cory Jefferson got some minutes, as did the newly acquired Clark, but neither started. Mason Plumlee started alongside Lopez, which was not a sight for sore eyes. Here’s why. Read More

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Nets sign Earl Clark to ten-day contract

The Brooklyn Nets have signed Earl Clark to a ten-day contract, the team announced Friday. Clark, a New Jersey native, is a 6’10″ 234 lb. tweener who played for five teams in his five NBA seasons before most recently playing pro ball in China.

This move likely comes in response to Thaddeus Young suffering a hyperextended left knee in Brooklyn’s win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. The only other power forward available on the roster is Cory Jefferson, not counting playing either Mason Plumlee or Jerome Jordan at the four.

Clark is a 33.1% career shooter from downtown but has a wing’s arsenal of moves and is a capable defender. His most successful tenure was spent starting for the disappointing 2012-13 Lakers squad that included Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

The Nets take on Cleveland in Brooklyn tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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Brooklyn Film Festival: Brook Lopez’s Spacing

In Wednesday’s road win in Charlotte, the Brooklyn Nets relied heavily on Brook Lopez’s 34-point, 10-rebound performance to secure the playoff tie-breaker over the Hornets and advance to within a half-game of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. Lopez outdueled Al Jefferson in a matchup of two of the league’s premier post-players, with either center taking turns going at one another on the offensive end. In the closing minutes, both players exchanged baskets but Brook’s running layup was the game’s last made field goal, and Brooklyn escaped with a 91-88 victory.

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Trending in Brooklyn: The “Race” for the Eight Seed

Two weeks ago the Brooklyn Nets looked down and out of the hunt for the eighth seed, but after a 5-2 stretch and some slip ups by other teams in the race the Nets are right back in it. Here’s what’s been trending in Brooklyn:

Eighth Seed Playoff Death March

  • Four teams — The Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets
  • Separated by half a game
  • All at least nine games under .500
  • “Fighting” for one playoff spot
  • WHO WANTS IT LESS?!

This playoff “race” is sad, and bordering on embarrassing. Yet here we are, with the Nets sitting at 30-40 and somehow only a half game out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs because… well, it’s the Eastern Conference Playoffs. This doesn’t even really have the feel of a race for a playoff spot so much as it feels like a few bad soccer teams competing to avoid relegation. Whoever comes out of this is almost assuredly going to get brutally pounded into submission by the Atlanta Hawks, but no matter what happens the Nets aren’t going to be getting any ping pong balls in the draft lottery, so why not? Let’s get the eight seed. Sure.

There’s only one problem with that: the schedule. Brooklyn’s final 12 games includes a contest each against the Cavaliers, Raptors, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Bulls, and then two games, home and away, to the Hawks. If there’s any consolation to this brutal schedule it’s that there are only two back-to-back sets, and on one of them the back-end is a crosstown showdown against the 14-win New York Knicks so it’s like that one doesn’t even count. If there’s anything akin to a must-win game it’s on March 31st when the Indiana Pacers come to Barclays Center. The Pacers currently hold a half game lead over the Nets for the eighth seed, and if Brooklyn wants to sneak into the playoffs a loss there would be a serious blow. Read More

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Nets 91, Hornets 88: Brook Lopez Is Locked In

The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in Charlotte last night if they hoped to remain in the Eastern Conference’s playoff conversation, particularly after losing to the Boston Celtics at home earlier in the week. Brooklyn entered the night in 11th place in the East – a game and a half behind the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, and a game back of the Hornets in the race for the eighth seed – with key opportunities remaining on the team’s East-heavy schedule over their last 13 games. The Hornets and Nets split their two meetings earlier in the season, and a win in Charlotte would determine the tie-breaker between two rivals for the East’s last playoff spot. And so, in a must-win matchup against the Charlotte Hornets, the Nets went to Brook Lopez early and often, as he dominated on both sides of the ball in Brooklyn’s 91-88 victory.

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Three Man Weave: Week 22 Edition

At this point in the season, it’s probably best to forget everything you have previously read concerning the Brooklyn Nets and their chances of making the playoffs (even if it includes past instances of this column). After a strong week of play, and the sheer inconsistency of the Eastern Conference’s bottom-tier of playoff teams, the Nets find themselves just a game out of the eighth seed with 14 games remaining in their 2014-15 season.

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Nets 91, Celtics 110: One step forward, three steps back

We’ve seen this movie before. In what’s likely the most crucial stretch of basketball for the Brooklyn Nets this season, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and co. won two huge games before getting trampled on their home court by arguably the easiest of all three opponents. Despite 31 points from Lopez, who’s been playing his butt off, Brooklyn lost 110-91 to Boston, losing the season series and dropping to 1.5 games behind the eighth seed.

Outside of Lopez, the Nets shot a combined 20-70 from the field. Deron Williams came a rebound shy of a triple-double, not that it did much good. Brooklyn couldn’t stop Boston all night, but hung in there through two quarters. The Nets offense would completely crumble in the fourth, managing just 17 points and giving up 27 to the Celtics. Four Bostonians finished with 18+ points and Evan Turner notched a triple-double.

Like I said, we’ve seen this movie before.

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Nets 123, Pacers 111: Bojan Bogdanovic shuts it down

Against an Indiana team that the Nets will have to overtake if they still hope to make the playoffs, Brooklyn dropped at least 120 points on an opponent for the third time in the last four games to tighten the race for the 8th seed.

Brooklyn as a team shot 61.3 percent from the field, which is the highest shooting percentage against the Pacers in franchise history. The efficient scoring was aided by a perfect 8 of 8 shooting performance from Bojan Bogdanovic, who hit four key shots in the fourth quarter to save the Brooklyn offense that was stagnating while Indiana tried to take it late.

After 17 first half points from Deron Williams, the Nets slumped to start the second half as Williams struggled to continue the production, opening the door for Indiana to retake the lead in the third quarter. Brooklyn’s starting point guard was scoreless in the second half, which led to Lionel Hollins sticking with Jarrett Jack to close out the game.

Following his 32 point, 18 rebound and five block performance against the Bucks last night, Brook Lopez led the Nets in scoring with 26 points while adding four blocks. Bogdanovic finished with 21 points behind Lopez, but a number of crucial plays were ran for the rookie swingman instead of Lopez in a fourth quarter that could have easily gone Indiana’s way.

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Nets 129, Bucks 127: The New Brook Lopez?

That was wild. Just like the last time these two teams met at Barclays this season, it took three extra periods to decide a winner. Only this time, it was the Brooklyn Nets coming out on top, 129-127.

The Nets seemed to be in trouble early and often, as the Bucks took a few marginal leads out of the gates and even led by double-digits. Surprisingly, the Nets had little trouble scoring on the league’s second-stingiest defense. On the flipside, Milwaukee’s youth and athleticism made mincemeat of the Nets’ D, and when the Bucks didn’t score they grabbed a ton of offensive boards. 38 in total in fact, or a higher number than Brooklyn’s 37 defensive rebounds. Zaza Pachulia finished with 18 rebounds. Zaza Pachulia.

Anyway, some timely Nets runs behind improved defense got them in the thick of things. They forced overtime, then two, then three, then won! Note that this was against a much younger and much more athletic Bucks team. Who’s old and slow now? Bojan Bogdanovic continued his uber-aggressive post-All-Star play with 17 points along with a steal and two blocks. Thaddeus Young added 24 of his own and Joe Johnson scored 20 including some big buckets in the overtimes. However it was Brook Lopez who carried the Nets to victory, but not in his usual Brook Lopez way.

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