Brook Lopez could not be stopped against the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night, scoring 31 points and recording his second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds in a New Jersey Nets 94-89 victory.
New Jersey's center has come under heavy fire for his lack of rebounding this year. For one game at least, he silenced his critics—as he was routinely in good position while also displaying a great amount of aggressiveness and desire in snatching-up missed shots.
This is not to say it was easy for anyone involved. Lopez himself took a nasty fall in the third quarter that saw him smash his face directly into the base of the basket. He seemed to hurt just about every part of his body but remained in the game.
It is worth noting, however, that Lopez was grabbing his right leg for much of the fourth quarter. He never came out due to any type of injury, but it's something to remember going forward.
As for the team in general, the Nets went into halftime with a 15-point lead and, at one point, led by as many as 19.
They were unable to keep Charlotte from making a run though, and saw their advantage cut down to four during the final period.
This shouldn't be too much of a surprise, as the Nets generally struggle to score points and aren't a particularly well-shooting team. The only time they really shot the ball well in this game was during the second quarter when they hit more than 50 percent of their shots.
Throughout the game, New Jersey shot 41 percent, while Charlotte managed 43 percent.
No matter how hairy the game got and how much the Nets struggled to put the Bobcats away, the important thing is that they won.
The most essential development is that they finally closed out a game on the road and got their first W as the visiting team in over a month.
They have shown recently that, when they have their full complement of players, they can win at home, so the next step is learning to how consistently win away from the Prudential Center.
Perhaps this is a sign of things to come.
As for other individual performances, Devin Harris and Kris Humphries also came up large for New Jersey.
Harris scored 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting and got to the free-throw line eight times. He also added in eight assists and had zero turnovers. He seems to be trying to find a happy medium between scoring and setting up his teammates. He's shown great ability to do both in his career, so it will be interesting to see how well he plays once he puts it all together.
Humphries notched his 16th double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Not bad for a guy the team didn't even want, eh?
Gerald Wallace of the Bobcats was the only player on Charlotte to have what could be termed an above-average game. He scored 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, going 8-for-11 from the line and grabbing nine rebounds in the process.
This is the third time the Nets have won back-to-back games in the last three weeks. What they need to do now is really go hard after their third-straight victory. They haven't been able to do that this year, and have not done so since the 2008-09 season.
All indications are that this team is on the right track. Breaking that sustained winning-streak drought would be another affirmation of this. It would also allow the Nets to have their first unbeaten week of the 2010-11 season.
They will have to beat the nearby rival New York Knicks Saturday night to make this happen.
The Knicks had a somewhat easy win over New Jersey in November, although Harris missed a large portion of that game. It's reasonable to assume the contest would have been closer had he been in there.
That, along with the fact that the Knicks aren't playing as well right know as they were when the teams last met, bodes well for New Jersey.
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