Oklahoma City is on pace to win 60 games and has two of the most exciting players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Nets are on pace to win 20 games and have basically nothing except an above- average center in Brook Lopez.
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But Sunday night at Barclays Center, with Thunder starting center Steven Adams out with an elbow injury, Lopez was enough to tip the scale improbably in the Nets’ favor.FacebookLike Newsday Sports on Facebook
Lopez scored a season-high 31 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Nets to a 116-106 upset of one of the better teams in the NBA.
The win, which ended a five-game losing streak for the Nets (12-33), was a treat for fans who had spent the last 24 hours hunkered down at home as one of the worst snowstorms in decades blanketed the area.
Despite the fact that the game’s tipoff was delayed by four hours because of the storm, the arena was nearly filled to capacity with the Thunder’s only visit to Brooklyn this season.
“This is a great win for us,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown said. “Oklahoma City has been playing great. Their pace and talent is outstanding.”
The loss ended the Thunder’s winning streak at seven games. Oklahoma City, which trailed the entire game, had arrived in New York early Saturday morning, just hours after defeating Dallas, 109-106.
Durant, who said he did nothing but watch television and work out while snowbound in his Manhattan hotel room, led all scorers with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Westbrook, who is averaging just under 10 assists per game, fell three assists short of a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Oklahoma City’s big men, Nick Collison and Enes Kanter, could do little to counter Lopez, however. The two totaled only 11 points, although they did grab 14 rebounds, 10 by Kanter.
Lopez bounced back from one of his worst performances of the season — an eight- point game against Utah — to shoot 11-for-19.
“I thought Brook was outstanding,” Brown said. “He had a great presence in the paint. We posted him. That’s the type of showing I would like to see from him going forward.”
The game could rank as the highlight of the season for a team, if not a franchise, that entered the night in disarray.
The Nets had lost 10 of their last 11. Since coach Lionel Hollins was fired and general manager Billy King was reassigned on Jan. 10, they had shown little improvement.
The win improved their record under Brown to 2-6. It also was their most complete showing of the season.
The Nets had five players score in double figures. Bojan Bogdanovic contributed 18 points off the bench and Thaddeus Young had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Joe Johnson added 13 points and six assists and Donald Sloan had 11 points.
“We just played so confident,” Lopez said. “We took what we thought we had and there were little adjustments. Guys took their shots when they knew they could make it.
“Not all of them went in, obviously, but we played with confidence. We just went out there completely confident.”