Nets’ Brook Lopez wins Easter Conference Player of the Week

By on April 7, 2015

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, April 6, 2015, 7:21 PM

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiCorey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Brook Lopez scores 32 points as he continues his torrid play after being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. 

NETS 106, TRAIL BLAZERS 96

Robin and Brook Lopez, safe to assume as the quirkiest and nerdiest twin brother combo in NBA history, have engaged in a playful public back-and-forth, with topics ranging from haircuts to mascots.

Twice this season, including Brooklyn’s 106-96 victory over the Trail Blazers on Monday, they’ve lock up on the court, two hairy centers with matching gaits and facial expressions.

“It’s amazing how far you can go with a crappy center,” said Robin Lopez with a straight face before tipoff.

Robin was asked about his brother’s latest honor announced Monday – the Eastern Conference Player of the Week — which made Brook the first in Nets history to win it in consecutive weeks. For reasons likely rooted in their shared penchant for sarcasm, Robin wasn’t offering a congratulations.

“I guess he fooled the NBA for a couple weeks at least,” he said.

Brook continued to impress (or fool?) the competition, dropping 32 points on his brother to give the Nets (36-41) another important victory for their late playoff push. With five games remaining, Brooklyn sits as firmly as ever in the seventh spot, one game ahead of Boston and two above both Indiana and Miami.

They’ve also won six straight at home, rebounding Monday from a 32-point defeat two days prior in Atlanta.

Most of the post All-Star-break prosperity can be attributed to Brook, who has finally rediscovered his deftness with bursts of speed on his surgically-repaired foot. On one particularly impressive play in the third quarter, he took his twin brother off the dribble, spinning in the paint before delivering an off balance lay-up from a tough angle.

Robin, on the other end, finished with just eight points, missing seven of his 11 shots.

“Brook’s earned (the Player of the Week) with his play,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “He’s been very focused, very committed to playing at a high level. His effort has been good all around the board. And as told him many times early in the year, it’s not just your scoring, but it’s your overall play and your ability to effect the game and help your team win.”

Robin Lopez backs down on his twin brother, Brook, during Monday's 106-96 Nets victory. Kathy Kmonicek/AP

Robin Lopez backs down on his twin brother, Brook, during Monday’s 106-96 Nets victory. 

The Nets also caught the kind of break that can occur at the end of the season, when a team such as the Trailblazers (50-27), having clinched a division title, doesn’t bother using their best players. Given an unfortunate quirk in the schedule that had the Trail Blazers traveling 5,000 miles in less than 48 hours, Stotts opted to leave three key players at home – LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Chris Kaman.

““It’s a five-hour flight (each way from Portland to New York),” the coach said about the one-game road trip, a makeup of a January game postponed due to the threat of snow. “It’s a three-hour time difference in a game that getting our players healthy is probably the most important thing right now.”

The Nets capitalized in the second quarter, jumping out to a 16-point lead at the break. Deron Williams continued his revival tour, finishing with 24 points and 10 assists – while offsetting another disappearing act from Joe Johnson (six points, 1-for-10 shooting). When Brooklyn’s bench nearly blew the lead in the fourth quarter, Williams and Brook returned to finish off the Trail Blazers.

***

Earl Clark spent a nerve-wracking Easter waiting for a phone call. And as the evening progressed without a hint of where he might end up, the forward, whose 10-day contract expired Sunday, was given an extension for the remainder of the season.

His contract also includes a team option for next season for the veteran’s minimum salary.

“I’m at the hotel like, ‘Man, maybe they’re going to send me my flight information (to send me home),’” Clark said. “I knew it was Easter too and everybody’s with their family, it was a family day. So I just tried to be patient. My agent called me and told me the positive news.”

Clark entered Monday averaging 4.4 points in 12.2 minutes over five games. The 27-year-old, a former 14th overall pick, has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2009.

“We needed another forward, a bigger forward, a more experienced forward,” Hollins said. “He can shoot the ball, although lately he hasn’t been. But I know his history is that he can shoot it. I think it surprised me since he’s been here is his ability to rebound.”

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