In only his third game back from surgery for a broken foot, Brook Lopez blew up for 38 points and led the New Jersey Nets to an upset win over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, 93-92.
While all the talk was about Deron Williams and speculation that he would return to his hometown of Dallas, it was Lopez who made the loudest statement.
At the same time, Lopez has increased his own trade value.
The Nets center scored 21 points in the first half and hit the winning free-throws with 42.4 seconds remaining in the game.
The Mav's Jason Terry made a slashing gesture against his throat to get the Dallas crowd pumped up, but Lopez hit both free throws.
"Lopez was a monster tonight," said Williams. "He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference."
If Williams was auditioning for the Mavericks, he got a slight case of stage fright.
The Nets All-Star finished the night with 12 points on 2-for-15 shooting, but still had 12 assists.
"I've said it all season, when we get him back we become a different team and you saw a lot of that tonight," he added.
Jason Kidd, who led the Nets to two NBA Championship series, missed two potential game-winning shots for Dallas in the final seconds of the game.
The Nets have now won three tough road games in a row— in Chicago, New York and Dallas— and appear to be making a run at the playoffs.
"I had to get back in and find my place. I didn't want to be that monkey wrench coming back and mess up their flow," said Lopez. "These guys have been playing great on the road and so we just wanted to continue to do that tonight."