- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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And his opinion hasn’t changed since.
"How can you say he’s not a top-two center in the league?" Evans said after Lopez scored a playoff career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Monday night’s 110-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Barclays Center.
"I’m not talking about in the East. I’m talking about in the league, period. How many big men can go down low and trust them to hit a jumper, hit a post-up move?
"People don’t know it; Brook is going to be one of the best big men before you know it. So Brooklyn has something to be real thankful for."
That’s for sure.
Lopez has scored 20 or more points in all five games of the series, the longest streak by a Nets player since Vince Carter had eight straight 20-point games in 2007, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
In his first postseason, the 25-year-old All-Star is averaging 23.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. He’s shooting 49.4 percent from the field, 89.2 percent from the free-throw stripe and drained his first career 3-pointer in Game 4.
"It’s hard to put one or two guys ahead of him, the way he’s playing this year," point guard Deron Williams said. "The way he’s played all season, he’s just stepped his game up a lot. We’ve talked about it all year: I just think he had a chip on his shoulder with all the Dwight (Howard) rumors and his injury last year -- all the things that have gone on -- you kind of think that it got him going."
"And he worked real hard all summer and he’s been great for us."
Added interim coach P.J. Carlesimo: "He’s been excellent."
Asked if he considers himself a star, Lopez said, "I consider myself a player on the Brooklyn Nets. I’m just one of the guys and I want to be known as a great teammate and someone who would be there to back them up."
How modest of you, Brook.
2dESPN Stats & Information
2dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo
17dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford