Brook Lopez scores 32, Nets beat short-handed Blazers
NEW YORK (AP) Brook Lopez doesn't speak to his twin brother on the court. Hadn't spoken to him at all since a late-night McDonald's run the night before.
His play did all the talking Monday.
He dominated Robin Lopez and the short-handed Portland frontcourt with 32 points and nine rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Trail Blazers 106-96 in the only game on the NBA schedule.
Robin Lopez joked before the game that his brother was a "crappy center."
"Well, it might have been a fluke," Brook Lopez said.
No way. The two-time Eastern Conference player of the week is doing it regularly now that he's back fully healthy again.
"He's a stubborn guy," Robin Lopez said. "No matter what people say about him, no matter what happens, he's just going to stick with what he knows how to do. That's what he's been doing."
The Trail Blazers left LaMarcus Aldridge and others home for the makeup of a game that was postponed by weather on Jan. 26 and couldn't stop Brook Lopez, who shot 15 for 25 from the field.
Deron Williams added 24 points and 10 assists for the Nets, who strengthened their hold on seventh place in the Eastern Conference by winning for the ninth time in 11 games. Thaddeus Young scored 20 points as Brooklyn moved a game ahead of eighth-place Boston and two up on ninth-place Indiana and Miami.
"We're trying to close the door on those other teams and the only way you can do that is by winning," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.
Damian Lillard scored 36 points for the Trail Blazers, who had won two in a row. Meyers Leonard had 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Robin Lopez had just eight points and seven boards.
Besides Aldridge, Portland was without forward Nicolas Batum and backup center Chris Kaman. With a five-hour flight Sunday just to turn around and fly back after the game Monday, Blazers coach Terry Stotts opted to let the players stay behind and rest some injuries before they host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Lillard made six 3-pointers but had only two assists.
"I didn't put any pressure on myself but I knew that without LA, Nico and Kaman, I would have to probably raise the level of my play and try to do a little bit more," he said.
The Blazers cut a 22-point deficit to six in the fourth quarter before the Nets pulled away again. Portland, guaranteed a top-four seed as the Northwest Division champion, isn't assured of home-court advantage, which is determined solely by record.
The originally scheduled game was called off when New York was hit with snow, though not nearly enough to live up to the blizzard predictions.
Both coaches downplayed the inconvenience of the one-game, cross-country return trip, and in fact both said they had already done it. Stotts was an assistant to George Karl in Seattle when the SuperSonics had to play an April makeup in New York in 1996, while Hollins was a player in Portland in 1978 when the Blazers couldn't get to a game in New York because of weather and had to return later.
The Nets outscored the Blazers 32-12 in the second quarter, limiting Portland to 4-of-18 shooting, and expanded their lead to 22 points in the third quarter. They won their season-high fifth straight at home and have won 11 of 14 overall.
Trail Blazers: Portland finished 20-10 against the Eastern Conference. ... CJ McCollum scored 15 points.
Nets: Joe Johnson barely extended his NBA-leading streak to 879 games with a field goal, making his lone basket with 1:55 to play and finishing 1 for 10. He has the longest active streak after Tim Duncan went without a basket for the first time in his career earlier this season. ... Brooklyn signed forward Earl Clark to a multiyear contract Monday. He has appeared in six games since signing a 10-day contract on March 27.
The Nets host Atlanta on Wednesday. The Hawks snapped Brooklyn's six-game winning streak with a 131-99 rout in Atlanta on Saturday and Williams said the Nets were eager to see them again. "I mean, yeah, any time you lose like that it's frustrating," he said, "and that's the good thing. We get to play them again so we can see if we can get us some payback."
Trail Blazers: Host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Nets: Host Atlanta on Wednesday.