Brook Lopez helps Nets beat Hornets
NEW YORK (AP) — Having Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche on the floor at the same time worked in a big way for the Nets.
Brooklyn’s big men combined for 44 points in a 108-98 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.
Lopez led all scorers with 26 points and enjoyed sharing the floor with Blatche, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.
“He has such a high basketball IQ,” said Lopez, “and he plays so well with everyone on the floor, which makes everyone’s job a lot easier.”
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said the Lopez-Blatche tandem works well with specific match-ups, and considering Brooklyn needed an offensive jolt after Monday’s dismal loss to lowly Philadelphia, the plan worked.
“Andray makes the game easier for me,” said Lopez, who went on a 10-point scoring run himself in the third quarter to preserve a dwindling lead. “You see Andray playing out there like that, I want him to play the entire game then. The great thing about our bigs, there are a lot of good players there who can do different things, so we can have a lot of combinations.”
Lopez had a monstrous dunk over his twin brother, Robin, with 3:49 left in the third quarter. It’s something the Lopez family will be talking about for years. Robin finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I am not going to talk to him,” Brook Lopez joked after the game, mentioning that Robin has dunked on him before as well. “I will expect the rest of my family to talk trash to him.”
At one point in the second half, Brook stood over Robin after he took a charge and fell to the floor. At that point, it was just basketball, not brotherly love, as Brook didn’t lend a hand. He said afterward he wouldn’t do that for any other opposing player.
Al-Farouq Aminu gave Hornets fans their biggest adrenaline rush of the game when he slammed an alley-oop from Greivis Vasquez down with authority and moved the Hornets within striking distance, trailing just 64-61 in the third.
The Hornets eventually tied it at 78 on a 3-pointer by Roger Mason Jr. with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Blatche made a layup as time expired to give the Nets back the lead at 80-78.
“We’re never out of it,” said Anthony Davis, who had 17 points and team-high 11 rebounds for New Orleans. “Any time we’re down we always give ourselves a chance to fight back. We have to come out from the beginning and go.”
MarShon Brooks added 14 points for the Nets, who opened the fourth quarter with a 12-3 run.
Deron Williams had 21 points and 13 assists, continuing his strong play since the All-Star break.
“He’s got pretty close to free reign,” Carlesimo said. “He’s managing the game very well. He’s also being a lot more vocal at practices, at timeouts and before and after games. It’s a good thing.”
In the first half, Brooklyn had an easier time controlling the game’s tempo, making scoring runs of 13-2 and 15-4, respectively.
Joe Johnson, who scored 20 points in the loss against Philadelphia, missed his fourth game of the season with a nagging bruised left heel. The Nets don’t play again until hosting Eastern Conference rival Atlanta on Sunday.
“It’s not that we’re not that good or banged up,” Carlesimo said. “You have to come and perform every night. We disappointed ourselves (against Philly).
“The four days’ rest are really big, not just for Joe, they’re big for all our guys. Try and get some legs and health back and maybe a little less sore.”
Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 24 points. Robin Lopez had 15 points for the Hornets, who played without leading scorer Ryan Anderson because of the flu.
Reggie Evans had 13 rebounds for Brooklyn, which won for the fourth time in five games and pulled within 2 games of the first-place New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division.
New Orleans has lost six out of its last eight games, including a 101-97 defeat to Brooklyn on Feb. 26 at home.
NOTES: Carlesimo is 24-13 as interim head coach of the Nets and is tied for the best start for a coach in franchise history with Lawrence Frank (2003-04). . Nets guard Deron Williams was presented with a ring from USA Basketball for his help in winning a Gold Medal with Team USA men’s basketball at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. . The Hornets will travel to play Washington on Friday.