If the New Jersey Nets are intending to trade Brook Lopez in a Dwight Howard trade, they can use Tuesday night's 93-92 win in Dallas over the Mavericks as Exhibit A for his trade value. Lopez could not be stopped by the Mavericks, scoring 38 points, including two clutch free throws in the last minute that gave the Nets the win.
Lopez destroyed Mavericks center Brendan Haywood all night long, shooting 17-28 by getting the ball with his back to the basket and using an array of moves too quick for the Dallas 7-footer. Nets coach Avery Johnson consistently took Lopez out when Haywood was out and then put his center back in as soon as Mavs coach Rick Carlisle put his back on the floor.
Haywood has a decent night himself offensively; scoring a season-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds and three blocks, but could not come close to stopping Lopez, who was playing in only his third game of the season back from a broken foot.
Lopez only had six rebounds for the night, largely because Kris Humphries was busy making his living there, taking down 15 rebounds to go with his 5-7 shooting, 10-point night. D-League All-Star Game MVP Gerald Green, just signed to a 10-day contract by the Nets contributed a spark off the bench, scoring 10 points with a couple of three-pointers and displaying the athleticism that made him a first round pick in 2005.
The Mavericks were out-shot from the field by the Nets, 44-36 percent, but kept the game close by forcing 19 Nets turnovers, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and making eight more free throws than their guests, 20-12. Dallas' prowess on the offensive glass was little surprise, despite not being a strong team in that area, given the Nets ranking as the worst defensive rebounding team in the league.
Shawn Marion, despite being 33 years old and a small forward, was assigned the task of checking Nets point guard Deron Williams and did the job extremely well, holding him to a 3-15 shooting night and 12 points. Marion's length and quickness, still quite present and accounted for, made scoring difficult for Williams but the Nets All-Star managed to contribute 12 assists to aid the Nets' cause.
After the Nets led for most of the game and all of the fourth quarter, Dallas went on an inspired 13-2 run, taking the lead on Jason Kidd's only field goal of the night, an open three-pointer that gave the Mavericks a one-point lead with less than a minute left in the game.
The Mavericks had received a 24-point, 10-rebound, 3-steal night out of Dirk Nowitzki, but the Nets defense closed well on Dallas shooters all night long and forced Dirk into a 7-19 shooting night as well as clamping down on Jason Terry (4-14), Marion (5-16) and Rodrigue Beaubois (3-10). Nowitzki also missed two fourth-quarter free throws, going 7-11 overall, which echoes even louder given the game's close result.
Even after Lopez's free throws, his 37th and 38th points of the night, the Mavericks had a chance to win the game, but the Nets dared Jason Kidd to beat them again from the outside on two final possessions, one after Terry had made a clutch steal to avoid the free throw endgame, and both times Kidd's shots misfired, giving the Nets the road win.