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BROOKLYN—Tuesday night at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets raced out to a 7-0 lead against the Utah Jazz and dominated throughout the 104-88 victory at Barclays Center. Brook Lopez scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting (7-9 FTs), also pulling down a team-high seven rebounds.
"(Brook) has a quiet fire and he plays really poised basketball," said teammate Kevin Garnett. "He's never rattled; he always seems under control. He's very strong, and able to go through plays and finish them very well – probably the best I've seen in the league in a while."
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In the first quarter, Lopez carried the Nets (2-2) to its early advantage with a dizzying display inside and out. When single-covered, Lopez backed down Enes Kanter for quick hooks or layups, even throwing in a fadeaway to keep Kanter honest. Off the ball, Lopez strayed into open spaces, where Paul Pierce found him for three easy buckets.
The sixth-year center racked up 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including five straight makes following an opening miss. Pierce’s passing helped set him up; the veteran forward is taking full ability of Lopez’s scoring touch, driving into the heart of the defense only to hand off, or feinting around a pick to set up Lopez’s roll.
"Paul's not just looking for Brook
– he's getting a lot of people touches by his penetration and getting the ball in the paint," said Nets coach Jason Kidd. "It's also resulting in him getting wide-open shots because guys are doing the same things. And Brook was great tonight. We played through him. It was all about getting the ball in the paint and going from there."
With the Jazz (0-4) closing in the second quarter, Joe Johnson hit back-to-back threes to quiet the rally, one including an impressive four-touch set up: Brook Lopez, on the left elbow, passed over the top to Andray Blatche on the right block; Blatche barely caught the ball before flinging it to Deron Williams on the right wing; Williams glanced up and flung a pass to his left, hitting Johnson in the hands for the open make.
The quarter climaxed when Lopez brushed off contact from Kanter at the beginning of a move that finished with a thundering dunk. His teammates shot off the bench, mouths agape and towels snapping as the Nets' lead reached 14.
The Nets opened the third going right back to Lopez, and with Utah's defense adjusting after an early bruising, Lopez began facilitating. On consecutive plays, the 25-year-old found Deron Williams for a three and Garnett for a jumper, opening the way for him to add another eight points as the lead expanded further still.
"We definitely have talked about it," Williams said. "Once Brook has 20 points in a half, they have to change up something. And when they do, we have a lot of shooters outside ready to shoot. I think Brook's gotten a lot better at shooting out of the double team, will continue to get better and tonight's a testament to that."
With an 85-61 advantage entering the fourth, Kidd removed the starters as the Nets cruised. Brooklyn finished the game with a 58-26 overall advantage on points in the paint.