Thursday, January 24, 2013
Barkley: Nets hated on
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPN NewYork.com
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez didn't make the cut for this year's All-Star team.
Despite being on pace for 50 wins and having the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, no Brooklyn Nets made the All-Star team.
“Those coaches were mad that Deron Williams got the coach fired, so they were hating on the Nets,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said Thursday night after the East reserves were announced.
It appeared as though center Brook Lopez, shooting guard Joe Johnson and Williams could get selected, but none of them did. Lopez was by far the biggest Brooklyn omission.
The 24-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career, and ranks fourth in the NBA in player efficiency rating behind arguably the three best players in the league: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul.
Lopez is currently the only player in the NBA averaging at least 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game. He leads all centers in scoring (18.6 ppg).
The Nets (25-16) are 2-5 without Lopez in the lineup. Since interim coach P.J. Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson, Lopez is averaging 20.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He’s shooting 55.2 percent from the field, 80.2 percent from the free-throw line. During that span, the Nets have gone 12-2.
Lopez has always been known as a gifted offensive player, but has made massive strides as a rebounder and defender this season. But he finished 14th in the popularity contest known as the fan balloting -- behind the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrew Bynum. And the Eastern Conference coaches, who pick the reserves, didn’t help him out either.
Johnson and Williams had less of a chance to make the team. Like Lopez, both have picked up their play under Carlesimo.
Williams adamantly denied that he was responsible for Avery Johnson’s firing. But his comments about Johnson’s offensive system and how it was too isolation heavy didn’t do him any favors in changing that perception.
It is possible that Lopez could be added by NBA commissioner David Stern if someone backs out due to injury.