Lopez Reaches Milestone as Nets Snap 16-Game Losing Streak
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Becoming just the second Net in franchise history to reach 10,000 career points didn’t mean as much to Brook Lopez as helping his slumping team record its first victory since Jan. 20.
The former All-Star center scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds Wednesday night to help Brooklyn lead from start to finish en route to a 109-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings in front of 17,608 fans at the Golden 1 Center, snapping the Nets’ season-high 16-game losing streak.
"The win is the most important thing," said Lopez, who went 9-of-17 from the field, including a second-quarter dunk that helped him join Buck Williams (10,440 points) as the only other Net to hit the coveted plateau.
"Obviously, I'm proud [of the milestone]. It's a testament to all the people I've played with over the years."
One player who Lopez hasn’t been able to play with much this season made a difference in Brooklyn’s slump-busting win.
Jeremy Lin, who has missed 44 games this year with a hamstring injury, had 17 points and five assists for the Nets, who improved to 1-2 on their ongoing eight-game road trip, which resumes Friday night in Utah.
"It's so huge having [Lin] out there leading and playmaking,” Lopez said of Lin, who returned from his latest hiatus last Friday night in Denver following the All-Star break. “He makes so many things much easier for us.”
"I'm so happy for him,” added Lin. “He's a fun-loving guy and he works so hard and cares. People don't realize how diligent and calculated he is with his work. So 10,000 points, I'm so glad I was able to at least be a part of it."
Brooklyn’s own Isaiah Whitehead scored 14 points and fellow rookie Caris LeVert added 13 for the Nets (10-49), who ended their skid two games shy of the franchise record of 18 straight losses during the 2009-’10 campaign.
"We felt it from the beginning," Nets first-year head coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We were here to take control of the game, rather than sitting back and waiting for the game. Give that starting group a lot of credit. I felt Brook was great and Jeremy was aggressive."
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The LIU-Brooklyn men’s basketball team capped a breakthrough season with a stunning home loss Wednesday night in the quarterfinal round of the Northeast Conference Tournament.
Robert Morris’ Kavon Stewart hit an off-balance, one-handed prayer from the right side of the lane with only three ticks left on the clock as the No. 7 Colonials upset the second-seeded Blackbirds, 69-68, in front of 1,422 fans at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
Sophomore Raiquan Clark’s free throws with 17 seconds left put LIU in front, but Stewart somehow got his shot to drop before NEC Player of the Year Jerome Frink’s bid for a buzzer-beater fell well shy of the mark, leaving the Blackbirds to lament what was an otherwise great season.
"I'm certainly proud of this group and what they've accomplished," LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri said after falling three wins shy of taking the Blackbirds back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
"It's a tough pill to swallow, to go down at home,” he added. “It was an unbelievable environment. Our administration and staff did a great job in getting people at this game, and it was just an awesome environment. And it's too bad the outcome was this outcome."
Frink and fellow senior Iverson Fleming were limited to 10 points apiece on a combined 11-for-27 shooting performance, but freshman standout Jashaun Agosto managed to score 16 points for LIU, which posted 20 wins for the first time in four years.
Junior Nura Zanna posted his conference-best 15th double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but the Blackbirds failed to shut down the frontline duo of Matty McConnell and Isaiah Still, who combined for 39 points as RMU advanced to face top-seeded Mount St. Mary on Saturday night.
"Certainly a great basketball game, and a great way to start off the month of March," Colonials head coach Andrew Toole said. "I'm proud of our team and the toughness they played with. They stayed together and trusted each other. Kavon rose up and hit a big shot, and I couldn't be happier for him."
Brooklyn’s last hope for an NCAA Tournament participant is the St. Francis Brooklyn ladies, who will visit second-seeded Sacred Heart for the NEC quarterfinals on Sunday.
The Terriers, who began their historic run to the Remsen Street school’s first-ever conference championship in Fairfield, Connecticut two years ago, are hopeful of kicking off yet another storied three-game road winning streak to the NCAAs.
Senior guard Rachel Iozzia, who matched a career best with 15 points in Monday’s regular season-ending victory over Mount St. Mary’s, believes SFC can give the Pioneers a good battle this weekend.
She and the rest of the Terriers nearly upset Sacred Heart two weeks ago in Fairfield before suffering a 61-58 double-overtime setback.
"I think our first half [against the Mount] was our best half this season," Iozzia said following Monday’s victory.
"We had a lot of turnovers that weren't needed, but we handled their pressure well and pulled through. I'm excited to play Sacred Heart. We had it last time in double overtime, so it's a revenge game now, we got this."