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Brook Lopez's buzzer-beater lifts Brooklyn Nets over Detroit Pistons

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Brook Lopez's buzzer-beater lifts Brooklyn Nets over Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets' Brook Lopez. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- Since entering the NBA in 2008, Brook Lopez experienced multiple coaches, different front office regimes, multiple trade rumors and many productive nights.

One of the few things Lopez never experienced was hitting a buzzer-beating shot.

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Lopez finally crossed a game-winner off his list Tuesday night when he hit a 16-footer as time expired to give the Brooklyn Nets a dramatic 98-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

"I was very confident in it," Lopez said. "It felt good. We executed so well on that last play which is something that we've learned throughout the season to do."

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After Detroit's Tobias Harris forged a 96-96 deadlock with an 8-footer, the Nets called their penultimate timeout to set it up for Lopez.

After getting the inbounds pass from Randy Foye, Lopez took a few dribbles, moved near the baseline as Aron Baynes came over to defend after briefly getting screened by Isaiah Whitehead. Lopez released the shot as the clock showed 0.2 seconds left and the ball went in as the buzzer sounded.

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"Honestly I wasn't sure but we talked about it in the huddle," Lopez said of being able to dribble before releasing the shot. "We felt we did. It was plenty of time. Isaiah set a beautiful screen, Randy made a great pass. I just tried to get it up there."

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Lopez scored 12 of his 29 points in the final 12 minutes and capped his sixth straight game of at least 20 points by executing the final play.

"Basically it was a cross screen for Brook, get him into the open space and let him go to work," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I thought Isaiah set a monster screen, really had a great hit. Randy delivered it and then quite honestly Brook made a heck of a play.

Instantly after hitting the shot, Lopez was mobbed by his teammates with rookie Caris LeVert being first to the celebration in front of the Detroit bench.

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"It was great," Brooklyn forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. "It was fun to have that moment. Brook deserves it. He's a phenomenal teammate. I'm just glad to be a part of this."

Lopez's shot capped Brooklyn's second buzzer-beater this season. The other was Foye's 3-pointer against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 26.

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"I thought the defense was pretty good on it," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He shot a one-foot step back off of his left foot on the move."

The shot gave the Nets their third win in six games. It also proved damaging for Detroit (34-37) since the Miami Heat moved past them into eighth in the Eastern Conference by beating the Phoenix Suns.

"We didn't deserve to win tonight," Van Gundy said. "They did deserve to win tonight. The result is probably what it deserved to be."

"They had more intensity than us," Harris said. "They played harder than us. In games like that, shots like that go in."

Before the last-second dramatics, the Nets held an 11-point lead in the opening minute of the fourth and a seven-point lead on a 3-pointer by LeVert with 1:55 remaining. Detroit scored the next seven points and evened the game at 94 on a 13-footer by Marcus Morris with 58.9 seconds remaining.

The Nets took a two-point lead on two LeVert free throws with 50.1 seconds remaining and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope misfired on a 3-point attempt on the next Detroit possession.

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Brooklyn had a chance to ice the game but Whitehead missed a short turnaround, allowing the Pistons to tie it again when Harris rebounded a missed jumper by Morris.

Besides Lopez's outing, four others reached double figures for Brooklyn. LeVert added 15, K.J. McDaniels contributed 11 while Spencer Dinwiddie and Archie Goodwin chipped in 10 apiece.

Harris led Detroit with 24. Caldwell-Pope added 19, Ish Smith added 16 while Andre Drummond collected 13 and 17 rebounds.

Long before Lopez's shot, the Pistons shot 62 percent in the opening quarter and held the Nets to 29 percent for a nine-point lead. By halftime, Brooklyn held a six-point advantage and entering the fourth the lead was 74-65.

NOTES: G Jeremy Lin (sprained right ankle) took jumpers and 3-pointers during Brooklyn's morning shootaround and coach Kenny Atkinson does not believe Lin's absence will be lengthy. ... Both coaches were asked about the recent issue of rest in the wake of Cleveland resting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for a nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday. Said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy: "I think the perspective we tend to lose in this league is who we get paid by. We get paid by the fans. We get paid by the fans in the arena and we get paid by the fans on TV. So you may come to the decision still that it's best to rest guys, I get that but hopefully you've at least factored in the fans." Said Atkinson: "You have to sympathize with the fans, and I'm an NBA fan. I want to turn on the TV and see the best players, so I get it."

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