Brook Lopez was held without a field goal until the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic Friday, as the Nets lost, 105-90.
Lopez was 3-of-17 with 10 points on the night, not scoring at all before hitting a free throw in the third quarter.
He was clearly intimidated by Dwight Howard and frustrated by his lack of production. It seemed he did not make a strong move toward the basket until the game's final frame.
While it is understandable to struggle against one of the premier defenders in the NBA, it would have been nice to see Lopez display a bit more toughness. He will need to develop a mean streak if he wishes to become an elite player.
Howard, on the other hand, was dominant in this one—his improvement on the offensive end evident.
For the game, Howard scored 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting and added 16 rebounds, five of them on offense.
Howard spent time with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer in an effort to develop more of a post game. He displayed better moves down low and also had a nice touch on his shot. Surprisingly, he went 12-of-16 on free throws, an area that is a weakness for him.
He had been at 43.2 percent from the line this year, and the thought of him consistently hitting those attempts to go along with his expanding repertoire on offense is downright scary.
Other notables for New Jersey include Travis Outlaw, Kris Humphries and Terrence Williams.
Outlaw desperately needed to deliver a good game and that he did, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including going 3-of-4 on threes. He also grabbed six rebounds and played solid defense on Rashard Lewis.
Humphries and Williams both reached double figures in points, with 13 and 15, respectively, and Humphries' work on the offensive glass helped New Jersey get out to an early lead.
Devin Harris was questionable coming into the game with a shoulder injury, but showed no ill effects as he scored 14 points and dished out four assists.
The Nets led 51-41 with 1:39 left in the first half before the Magic went on a 45-16 run that extended into the early parts of the fourth quarter.
Orlando out-rebounded New Jersey 50-31. Thirteen of the Magic's boards came on the offensive end as the Nets repeatedly failed to get a body on players around the rim.
The free throw line was another area where Orlando had an extreme advantage, going 26-of-32 while New Jersey was 8-of-9.
In addition to Howard, the Magic got major contributions from Jameer Nelson and former Net Vince Carter, who combined for 39 points and nine assists.
Brandon Bass chipped in nine rebounds off the bench.
Despite the loss, there were still some good signs for New Jersey.
No one could have expected them to win on the road against an elite team with championship aspirations. They played hard throughout and letting their early double-digit lead slip away should be a learning experience for the young team.
Lopez is also not going to have many nights like this. He has always shown the desire to improve and has now been provided with plenty to work on.
The Nets will take on the Miami Heat for the second time in six days on Saturday, when they will look to get revenge for the 101-78 whooping they received on Halloween.
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