MILWAUKEE — There was a time when no one could have imagined 7-foot center Brook Lopez playing on the perimeter and firing away from three-point range like a guard, but he took the skill he learned in his one season under Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and turned it on his former team to help the Bucks rout the Nets, 129-115, Saturday night at Fiserv Forum.
The Bucks rained in 21 of 51 three-point attempts, and no one poured in more than the Nets’ all-time leading scorer. Lopez had 24 points, thanks to 7-for-15 three-point shooting, and all but three of his 18 shots came from beyond the arc. In one second-quarter stretch, the Bucks made four threes in a row, and three were by Lopez.
“I was feeling pretty good,” he said. “Once we started getting going, the ball started popping a lot and moving around well. We were having fun out there.”
Bucks teammate Malcolm Brogdon recently suggested that Atkinson’s insistence that Lopez develop a three-point shot might have extended his career, and Lopez agreed. “The league has obviously trended that way, so I’m lucky I was in that position with Kenny to be part of his offense,” he said. “So to get that opportunity is a big thing for me, and it’s definitely added another element to my game for sure.
“It’s been a lot of growing because I was playing back to the basket and then pick-and-roll for so long. I’m playing a lot of guard spots now.”
The Nets traded Lopez to the Lakers before the 2017 NBA Draft, and he scored a season-high 34 against them in a win in Los Angeles. His 24-point effort Saturday was his second-best this season. Lopez was marginalized by the Lakers, but since signing with the Bucks, he has started every game for the NBA’s best team.
“It’s been fantastic,” Lopez said. “It’s great to be a part of something like this, but for me, it’s been so fantastic to see how many people are contributing on this team . . . I think we all agree that, as well as we’re playing now, we still have so much room for improvement and we definitely won’t be the same team in May-June that we are now.”