SACRAMENTO, California — If trade rumors are bothering Brook Lopez, it's hard to tell, because the veteran center is playing inspired basketball of late for the Brooklyn Nets.
He had 22 points and six blocks and the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Sacramento Kings 103-100 on Wednesday night for only their second win in the last 10.
Lopez has lost his starting spot to Mason Plumlee and has been the subject of recent trade rumors with the Nets' poor play. He has one year remaining on his $16.7 million contact and is expected to opt out in the offseason.
"I've been on the trading block for 6 ½ years, so that doesn't bother me," said Lopez, who had 26 points in a victory last week over Washington. "I just live with it."
Lopez was a major force at the offensive end, making 8 of 15 shots and 6 of 7 free throws. He also played a role in slowing down Kings center DeMarcus Cousins with some solid defense and several of his season-high six blocks.
"It's definitely a challenge going against him, but it's a benchmark to see where I'm at," Lopez said.
The Nets had a 23-point lead in the opening half, but the Kings eventually cut it to two late in the fourth quarter. Some clutch shooting by Joe Johnson helped preserve the victory for Brooklyn.
Johnson scored 16 points, including six in the final 1:11 to help the Nets avoid yet another loss.
"That's Joe, that's what we expect him. That's the type of player he is," Lopez said.
Jarrett Jack also had 16 points and added eight assists for the Nets. Alan Anderson had 14 and Bojan Bogdanovic added 10.
The Nets won six of seven games and reached the .500 mark on Jan. 2. But Brooklyn had been in a terrible stretch ever since, at one point losing seven straight.
Cousins had 28 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento, which matched its season-high fifth straight loss.
Rudy Gay scored 25 points and had eight rebounds and six assists and Darren Collison had 16 points.
Gay had 14 points in the fourth and Cousins added 13. The Kings outscored the Nets 31-21 in the final frame.
"This is right up there with all the losses that we've had," Collison said. "It's just so frustrating because it seems like we are playing hard, but not getting the results that we want."
Trailing by 15, Gay ignited a 12-2 run by the Kings. His steal and dunk pulled the Kings within 91-85 with 4:40 remaining. Gay had 10 of the 12 points in the spurt.
Gay's basket, Collison's tip-in and Cousins' two free throws pulled the Kings to within 96-94. Johnson responded with a 3 to build the Nets' lead to five points. Johnson added three free throws in the final 24 seconds to hold off the Kings.
"Down the stretch they went small and became more aggressive and we couldn't run our offense," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "But we hung in there and got the win."
The Nets' reserves were instrumental in establishing the 62-46 first-half lead. They shot 14 of 23 and outscored the Kings' bench 32-16.
Nets: Deron Williams (fractured rib cartilage) is traveling with team, but missed his seventh straight game. The veteran point guard was shooting at Monday's practice and Tuesday ran on the treadmill, then dribbled and shot after practice.
Kings: Reserve guard Ramon Sessions was back on the court after missing the previous 13 games with a low back sprain. He had two points and four assists in 22 minutes. ... Cousins and Gay, Sacramento's leading scorers, shot a combined 4 for 20 in the opening half.
Brooklyn visits the Clippers on Thursday.
Kings travel to Golden State on Friday.