Brooklyn’s All-Star: Center Lopez shined brightest for Nets in first half
After missing all but five games last season due to a series of foot injuries and hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors involving Dwight Howard for the better part of the past two years, Brooklyn center Brook Lopez has become quite proficient at blocking out distractions and zeroing in on the task at hand.
“I’m just focused on winning tonight’s game,” Lopez said before leading the Nets to a wire-to-wire 91-83 victory in Minnesota on Wednesday. “[The trade rumors have] been going on for a few years now. Our team is doing a good job of ignoring them. It’s not too frustrating. Like I said a million times, I don’t really pay attention to this stuff.”
Lopez, who scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a pair of shots against the short-handed Timberwolves, has emerged as the key component in the Nets’ resurgence as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender. At 26-16, Brooklyn moved within one-half game of Atlantic Division-leading New York, pending the outcome of Thursday night’s Knicks-Celtics game in Boston, and is just 2 1/2 lengths behind defending NBA champion Miami for the East’s best record.