The traditional center is supposed to be a thing of the past. New offenses and new rules have made the big man who roams the paint a relic from a more simple time, a clunky BlackBerry in a sleek iPhone world.
Of course, you wouldn’t have known this if you watched Brook Lopez and Andre Drummond go at it Monday night in the Nets’ 105-100 loss to Detroit at Barclays Center.
While big men around the league are getting pushed to the perimeter, Lopez and Drummond still make their living working mostly under the rim. At times Monday night, as they pounded away in the paint, it seemed as if one were watching a game tape from the early 1990s.
Drummond scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, including seven offensive boards, as the Pistons dominated with 28 second-chance points.
Lopez led all scorers with 27 points, including seven in the final 4:50. Unfortunately for the Nets, when he went up to block Reggie Jackson’s five-foot floater, he tipped it into the basket to give Detroit a 104-100 lead with 14 seconds left.
“That was tough,” Lopez said. “I kind of wanted to ask for half a point for that. That’s just the way it goes. I thought we played the possession very well, got a great contest, and it went in anyway.”
Jackson had a huge game for Detroit, scoring seven of his 19 points in the final 2:03.
“I don’t know what happens, but he’s been a real good closer,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He knows the ball is going to be in his hands then. He wants that kind of responsibility. We’ve had nights where he wasn’t able to get it done and he can move on from that, which is what you want, because it’s not going to go in all the time.”
The loss was the fourth straight for the Nets (12-37). Their record under interim coach Tony Brown dropped to 2-10.
The Pistons (26-23) had lost four of their previous six games and are trying to hang on to the last playoff spot.
Lopez entered the game playing some of his best basketball. Including Monday night, he is averaging 26.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 34.8 minutes in his last five games.
“I was just trying to be aggressive when I got it,” Lopez said. “When we’re getting looks, we’re taking them. I think that’s something we just all have to keep doing.”
Joe Johnson had a rough game for the Nets, scoring three points and shooting 1-for-8. Andrea Bargnani had 18 points and Shane Larkin finished with 14 assists.
Van Gundy was happy with the win and the performance of Drummond, who recently was named a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He said he still has a way to go, though.
“For Andre, more than anything, it’s consistently going out playing hard and doing his job,” Van Gundy said. “We’re still up and down with that, where we don’t know what kind of energy we’re going to get on a given night. That’s not where you want to be with one of your better players.”