Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lopez Leans on Evans to Learn Playoff Ropes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lopez Leans on Evans to Learn Playoff Ropes

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Early Thursday afternoon, about 55 hours before the first NBA playoff game in Brooklyn, the Nets stepped on the practice court and got to work.

A day after the end of the regular season, the stakes had risen. Deron Williams already could detect the difference.

"You could see the focus when we came in," Williams said. "Guys are ready. Guys are locked in."

That's because, even though the Nets as a franchise haven't been to the playoffs since 2007, these guys have been here before. The Nets' starting five has a combined 169 games of playoff experience. They know what's at stake. They know how to prepare.

There is, however, one large exception: Brook Lopez.

The Nets' center, now in his fifth season, has never been to the playoffs. Lopez is having the finest season of his career. But can we know for sure he'll be ready when he tips off against the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 on Saturday night?

"Hell yeah," answered Nets forward Reggie Evans. "He's a whole different person right now, and that's in a good way. Nobody [can] stop him. The only person that can stop Brook is Brook. That's it."

It's a far cry from where Lopez was a year ago. The 2011-12 season was a nightmare for him. After playing his first three NBA seasons without missing a game, Lopez played only five last season as he battled a broken bone in his right foot.

Worse yet, insult was literally added to the injury: Lopez constantly was dangled as trade-bait for Dwight Howard, the then- disgruntled Orlando Magic center. Lopez said he wasn't bothered. His teammates noticed otherwise.

"I think last year was a tough year on him," Williams said. "And it made him even tougher. He came out really aggressive and out to prove people wrong. All the trade rumors that went on and his injuries, I think all that stuff got to him a little bit. He didn't show it, he did a great job of holding that stuff in. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.