NEW YORK -- Brook Lopez turned a broken play into his biggest basket of the season.
After failing to roll and briefly fumbling a pass from Jarrett Jack, Lopez gained control of the ball and completed a perfect give-and-go with Markel Brown, which resulted in the 7-footer soaring through the air and throwing down a vicious one-handed dunk that gave the Brooklyn Nets a four-point lead with 2:19 remaining.
It was Lopez’s first basket in a “clutch" situation (final five minutes of games within five points) this season. He had been 0-for-10.
“I guess it just hasn’t gone my way -- being in that situation -- but we all have to rely on each other and trust one another,” said Lopez, who had another strong performance, finishing with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks and 6 turnovers.
“He’s been playing tremendous for us all season,” Jack said of Lopez. “And the thing with Brook, he possesses so many skills and talents that people kinda want a lot, but the guy can do a lot, and people have to understand and accept him as the player that he is.”
Among players who face at least eight field goal attempts at the rim per game, Lopez ranks third in the NBA in opponents’ percentage (42.4) -- trailing only Rudy Gobert (35.7) and Hassan Whiteside (42.2).
But Lopez wasn’t the only Net who had an impact in this one.
Joe Johnson, who came in averaging just 11 points per game on 35 percent shooting, had 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, while going 9-for-15 from the field. Bojan Bogdanovic, who had scored 47 points in his previous 11 games combined, erupted for 19 points, while Thaddeus Young added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
The Nets shot 55.6 percent from the field and dished out 27 assists against the Rockets (10-12), who looked like a mess. James Harden (10 points, 7 turnovers) and Dwight Howard (10 points, 9 rebounds) both struggled all night long and didn’t appear to have any chemistry playing together.
Former Net Marcus Thornton kept the Rockets in the game nearly single-handedly, scoring 17 straight points for his team in the fourth. Thornton finished with 32 overall, but Houston’s attempt to come back from an 18-point deficit fell short.
Of note: Before the game, Brooklyn general manager Billy King told YES Network that coach Lionel Hollins isn’t on the hot seat -- for now.
“I’ve talked to ownership, and right now, Lionel is our coach and we’re working to try to turn this thing around,” said King, who added that he’s exploring possible trades.
Also, Hollins mentioned that rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (fractured ankle) could miss 10 weeks, though no official timetable has been set for his return. Hollis-Jefferson is slated to undergo surgery on Wednesday morning.