Game Recaps

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.


Lopez finished with 32 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, making him the only player to put up those numbers in a game this season. Most impressively, though, was Lopez was more of a distributor tonight than he has been all season. He finished with only two assists, (he’s only had three games with three or more this season) but Lopez was more active in seeking out open teammates when being doubled. It resulted in some good looks for Brooklyn, even if they didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Peep the film:

Now compare that to the piece written about Lopez’s disdain for passing in December that happened to include a lot of screenshots from Brooklyn’s prior 3OT bout with the Bucks. A quick reminder: Lopez passes the ball per touch less than only two other players in the league! With that in mind, this game could easily be written off as a one-time adjustment for Lopez. A blip. But if it’s not, and I pray it’s not, the Nets offense could be looking a whole lot better down the stretch.

What can’t be considered a blip has been Lopez’s rebounding since All-Star Weekend. In the past 14 games, Lopez has clocked in six double-digit rebounding nights. In the prior 41? Just five. His rebounding rate has jumped from 12.8% to 17.9% since the break, with most of the uptick from the offensive glass. Lopez collected 8.6% of available offensive rebounds prior to All-Star and 18.1% since. So that’s the 12th-best rebounding percentage and the second-highest (!) offensive rebounding percentage post-ASW among players who have averaged 25+ minutes a night. From Brook freakin’ Lopez! The Nets have also collected 4.2% more of available rebounds with Lopez on the floor since the break.

Thing is, this doesn’t come as a huge shock with how small the Nets have played. Brooklyn opened up the second half of the season with Joe Johnson playing at the four, with Thad Young - not the most active glass-cleaner around - recently taking over that spot. Naturally, Lopez’s numbers would spike. But he’s taken the challenge of having to be a ore dominant force on the boards and killed it. He’s getting right in the grill of opposing big men and rarely takes possessions off anymore. His effort has been commendable, big time.

It’s hard to tell if he’s here to stay, but there is a whole lot to like about this new Brook Lopez.