Prospect Heights

Nets’ ‘Mr. Consistency’ hits hallowed mark

Lopez passes Williams as Nets’ leading scorer in loss to Boston

April 12, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brook Lopez moves toward the basket in pursuit of becoming the Nets’ all-time leading scorer, a goal he accomplished Monday night in Boston. AP Photo by Charles Krupa
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Brook Lopez has been the only consistent thing about the Nets during their tenure here in Downtown Brooklyn, as well as the better part of the last decade.

The 7-foot center was rewarded for his efforts in the face of almost constant turbulence and uncertainty Monday night, becoming the Nets’ all-time leading scorer during Brooklyn’s 114-105 loss in Boston in front of a sellout crowd of 18,624 at TD Garden.

Lopez, the Nets’ first-round pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, has played for nine different head coaches, hit the hardwood in three separate arenas and been the subject of trade rumors almost annually during his nine seasons with the Nets.

Despite it all, the humble but hard-working pivot man has always shown up for duty with great eagerness and enthusiasm, except for missing large parts of two of the Nets’ first four seasons here due to foot injuries.

Approximately eight minutes into the fourth quarter of Monday night’s defeat, Lopez’ perseverance paid off as he nailed a jump shot from the baseline to pass Buck Williams (10,440 career points) for the hallowed mark.

“It’s a great honor, obviously a lot of amazing players have played here,” Lopez said after further cementing his status as Mr. Net.

“I’m just proud to have my name up there with those guys.”

Lopez finished with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out a pair of assists and blocked a shot in the Nets’ penultimate game of an otherwise dismal campaign.

Brooklyn is assured of finishing with the NBA’s worst record, and will need a win in Wednesday’s season finale in Chicago just to match last year’s 21-61 mark.

The Nets will miss out on the postseason for a second consecutive campaign after reaching the playoffs in each of their first three seasons at Barclays Center.

But to Lopez, chasing a championship here in Brooklyn is his No. 1 goal, regardless of how bleak that possibility appears at the moment.

“I’d love to see a legacy started here in a winning tradition and franchise built here and I’d love to be part of that foundation,” Lopez said.

Williams, who spent eight of his 17 NBA seasons with the Nets, was quick to laud Lopez for his consistency and diligence after his record, which had stood for 28 years, was finally broken.

“You don’t reach these kind of milestones unless you’re really consistent with what you’re doing and Brook has kept his head down and he’s a really solid dude,” Williams said.

“You can pencil in 17/18 points and expect him to play every night and play hard. You know what you’re going to get every night.”

Despite having to watch the Celtics celebrate clinching the Atlantic Division title and a potential No. 1 seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs, the Nets can take heart in having made great strides as this season nears its close.

They are 11-11 overall since March 1 after losing a season-high 16 games in a row and dropping a franchise-record 16 straight at Barclays earlier this year.

Lopez’s never-say-die attitude and determination have been instrumental in the better-late-than-never turnaround, something Williams recognized from his own tenure with the Nets.

“He works really hard and is constantly developing, he’s always looking for ways to get better and that’s what I did,” Williams noted.

“I was always committed to the game. You have to be really committed to get to this stage and he seems to be very committed and he’s grown every year that he’s played.”

That growth, which includes an NBA All-Star Game appearance in 2013, along with several other franchise records, has spread throughout the team this season as Brooklyn’s young, developing squad has followed Lopez’s daily approach, both at the Nets’ practice facility in Sunset Park and during games.

“When people think of me, rather than all the points, I’d like them to think that I was one of those guys that started something big here,” Lopez said.

“And made the Brooklyn Nets the franchise that they are, however many years down the road.”

Lopez’s milestone achievement overshadowed one of Jeremy Lin’s best games of the season.

Brooklyn’s starting point guard put up 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Celtics, but was still much more interesting in discussing the achievements of his pick-and-roll mate following the contests.

“That’s awesome. I’m really happy for him,” Lin said of Lopez.

“If I could describe Brook in one word, it’d be consistency. He brings it every night. I’m glad I got to be a part of that.”

Lopez and Lin hope to become part of an even bigger story here in Brooklyn come 2017-18, when the Nets try to begin seriously challenging for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

“These guys could easily ease back and relax, but that hasn’t been the case,” said first-year Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

They keep fighting. Brook and Jeremy are leading it,” he added. “They’re fighting for more and more minutes. They want to keep playing. And then our young guys are trying to prove themselves. They’re fighting for minutes. They’re fighting for contracts. They’re fighting for their future.”

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