Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Despite the fact that the NBA has opted to eliminate the center position from it’s All-Star ballot, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez showed the NBA that there are still at least two true 7-foot centers patrolling the paint in the Eastern conference.
On Monday evening at Barclays Center, Chandler and Lopez were just that as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the New York Knicks, 96-89, in a game that needed overtime to be decided.
Chandler shot 12-for-13 from the field, scored a career-high 28 points and hauled in 10 rebounds for the Knicks. For the Nets, Lopez overcame a tough fourth quarter to finish with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but most importantly, the win.
In today’s NBA, it was a rare display of dual dominance by opposing centers. Aside from the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert and the oft-injured Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Eastern Conference’s center crop leaves something to be desired.
But Chandler and Lopez gave all of the paying fans all they could have asked for.
Much of the scoring from both came at the expense of one another. Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was out-muscled and scored on quite a few one-on-one situations by Lopez. Traditionally, Chandler—one of the more athletic and agile big men around—excels in locking down his opponent in such situations. But on this night, Lopez got the best of him.
“I thought he played great,” Lopez said of Chandler. “He’s always a good challenge for me to see where I’m at. He’s fantastic post defender, I know I’m always gonna get his best and it’s fun to play against him.”
After the win, Lopez is now 3-5 in his career against the 7-foot-1 Chandler. Lopez came into the game averaging a gaudy 19.6 and 8.0 rebounds in games against Chandler, who averaged 8.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in the first seven meetings.
While Chandler seldom gives up huge nights to opposing big men, Lopez is one guy who seems to have his number since entering the league in 2008-09, and that’s something that Chandler’s glowing praise hints he may be aware of.
“It’s always exciting and fun to go out and play against some of the top centers in the league,” Chandler said. “He’s a big body down there, he’s a good player, a good match up. Hopefully, the fans enjoyed it.”
With all the hype and emotion surrounding round one of the intra-city rivalry, fans will have three more opportunities to see Lopez and Chandler square off. The Knicks will return to Barclays Center again on Dec. 11 before the Nets head to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 19 and Jan. 21.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA.