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LOPEZ HITS GAME-WINNER AS NETS DEFEAT PISTONS, 98-96

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Brook Lopez: nine coaches, two states, three arenas and now ... one buzzer beater.

The last place Nets (14-56), playing strictlyfor development and evaluation, played spoiler role as Brook Lopez nailed a game-winning shot to defeat the Detroit Pistons, 98-96, as time expired. The Pistons (34-37), battling for the eight seed, appeared shocked by the grittiness of Brooklyn’s play… and Lopez’s shot. The loss dropped them into ninth place behind the Miami Heat.

Lopez said he didn’t know how much time was left when it left his hands, but it felt good anyway. Officially, it was 0.3 seconds. It cleared the net with no time on the clock.

As he told Sarah Kustok...

Lopez scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth to go along with seven rebounds on 13-of-24 shooting. He played 33 minutes. It was his first game-winning shot in the NBA. In college, he said, he nailed a game-winner but it wasn’t a buzzer beater.

As Detroit began to cut into Brooklyn’s 10-point fourth quarter lead, Brook Lopez scored eight straight points, including two three-pointers, to put Brooklyn back up by eight late in the game. Ish Smith, however, carried the Pistons and helped tie the game following a Marcus Morris jumper, then a Tobias Harris offensive board and put back with 2.4 seconds left.

It was all knotted up. Brooklyn ball. The Nets gave Lopez the rock and he nailed a tough contested fadeaway jumper along the baseline. The fans erupted and Mikhail Prokhorov, sitting upstairs in his suite, finally got to see his team win.

Without Jeremy Lin, the Nets needed somebody to step up late. Lopez answered the call.

Here’s how it went down…

All season the Nets have struggled to finish out games when Lin was absent from the lineup. However, with the help of Lopez, Spencer Dinwiddie and the young reserves, that wasn’t the case Tuesday.

Although the game looked ugly to start, they found an unlikely factor that ultimately led them to victory: defense.

After a 31-point first quarter for the Detroit Pistons, things weren’t looking all too great for the Nets. Tobias Harris was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and the Nets really had no offensive rhythm.

So instead, they picked up the defensive intensity and took care of the ball.

They turned the ball over just two times in the first half and forced Detroit to shoot 5-of-22 in the second quarter. To make things even better, they outscored Detroit 28-13 in the quarter – the lowest number of points they’ve allowed in a quarter this season – and led by six at half and nine entering the fourth.

It was a 74-65 lead – the 65 points being the second fewest the Nets allowed through three quarters this season. While the defense was locked in, the offense picked up too.

They shot 13-of-19 in the third quarter led by the likes of the bench and some newcomers, namely Archie Goodwin who showed off his versatility and athleticism, getting to the rim ... and finishing.

The Nets took early 10-point lead, but the Pistons cut it down to two with 2:49 remaining. Brook Lopez scored eight straight points for the Nets, but he couldn’t carry the entire load. He needed help. Ish Smith scored 12 points and carried Detroit to a tie ballgame with 58.9 seconds left.

The final minute: Nets 94, Pistons 94.

  • NETS: Caris LeVert attacks the rim and gets fouled. Hits 2-of-2.
  • PISTONS: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope misses a contested three. Nets ball.
  • NETS: Isaiah Whitehead missed jump shot.
  • PISTONS: Marcus Morris missed a fadeaway jumper, but Tobias Harris got the offensive board and tied the game with 2.4 seconds left.

The final play: Nets 96, Pistons 96. 2.4 seconds left

Brook Lopez received the inbound pass, puts his head down and hits a fadeaway jumper as time expires. NETS WIN!

“Basically, it was a cross screen for Brook - get him into the open space and let him go to work,” Kenny Atkinson said of the last play. I thought Isaiah [Whitehead] set a monster screen, really had a great hit. Randy [Foye] delivered it and then, quite honestly, Brook made a heck of a play.”

This was the shot:

It was the second buzzer beater of the season. Randy Foye nailed the first of his career vs. the Hornets back in December.

YOUTH MUST BE SERVED

Archie Goodwin finished with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks while fellow newcomer K.J. McDaniels showed off his range by nailing two three-pointers for 11 points. Caris LeVert chipped in 15, while Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 points to go along with a career-high eight rebounds. Average age of that group? 23 plus a few months.

FUTURE NET?

Kantavious Caldwell-Pope, the Nets could very well be targeting this summer, had 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, 3-of-8 from deep. He also had an altercation with Whitehead that cost him a technical foul.

Tobias Harris led Detroit with 24 and Andre Drummond with 13 points and 17 rebounds.

For post game audio, click here.

Next up: Phoenix Suns on Thursday.