- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- P.J. Carlesimo doesn't think it's a good idea to bench All-Star center Brook Lopez in the fourth quarter. And yet, Carlesimo continues to do it.
Still, the Brooklyn Nets' interim coach doesn't want it to become a trend.
"I created the situation and it's not a good situation," Carlesimo said Monday. "So yes, I worry about it that I need to address it and I worry about it that I need to watch what I do going forward.”
Lopez didn't play in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's 76-72 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. In three of the past four games, he has played just seven seconds combined in the final period.
"I don't worry ... that Brook will let it bother him or Brook will hold a grudge," said Carlesimo, who has been benching Lopez in favor of Andray Blatche. "Fortunately for me, Brook is very, very good that way. He cares about the team, he's supportive of Dray when Dray's in the game. Watch our bench: He's usually one of the more active guys on the bench when he's not in the game.
"He and Dray have been a really good combo for us all year. Almost a game doesn't go by where I don't look at the two of them and add up the points and rebounds and say, 'The production we're getting out of the 5 spot all year has been way above average.' [But] I've gone too far with this, I've abused it, where I shouldn't have done as much as I have with Brook, particularly three times in four games."
Carlesimo has said Lopez's struggles have come as the result of an "All-Star hangover." Lopez is averaging 16.0 points on 41 percent shooting since the break, down from his season totals of 18.7 PPG and 51 percent.
Lopez, who left without talking to reporters after Sunday’s loss, addressed the media Monday.
"I don't think anyone was really happy that we lost," said Lopez, who went just 3-for-10 from the field. "I think we had that game. We were right there and we kind of let it slip away.
"Dray's been playing well, so I'm happy to see him in the game playing well."
Lopez has not spoken to Carlesimo about the recent benchings.
"No, I don't think there's any reason to speak to P.J.," Lopez said. "I'm in a good place right now."
Said Lopez of his production in the four games since the break: "I feel I shot well in half of them. The first Milwaukee one [Feb. 19] I found I was shooting well and then in overtime I was cold. I was cold and had no business being in. I thought Dray should have been in in the overtime. But the second Milwaukee game [Feb. 20] and last night, I feel I definitely wasn't shooting well."
"They are good defensive centers, but I think I've definitely been disappointed in my play, no question," Lopez said.
On Tuesday night, Lopez will take on his twin brother, Robin, when the Nets visit New Orleans.
"Robin is the worst player in the NBA," Lopez joked.
But seriously ...
"It's always fun. It'll definitely be fun tomorrow going up against their frontcourt with him, Anthony Davis, Ryan [Anderson]," Lopez said. "They have a good frontcourt, very active."
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