New Jersey Nets: Brook Lopez

King says Lopez 'making good progress'

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Saturday during the third-annual Nets draft combine, which features potential second-round picks, center Brook Lopez popped out from behind closed doors at the PNY Center to take in some of the action.

Lopez, who missed all but five games this past season with right foot and ankle injuries, was in his adidas sneakers -- not in a walking boot, which he had been wearing for the past month. Then, when the first day of the combine concluded (the second day is Sunday), he worked on his outside shot and some court exercises.

Addressing reporters, GM Billy King confirmed that Lopez got a check-up on May 16 and said he's "making good progress" in his recovery. He still expects the team's starting center to be 100 percent healthy come training camp.

"[The doctors] said everything's progressing nicely," King said. "He's on track. He's doing everything -- just no running and jumping at this point. It's good to see Brook shooting."

Lopez hasn't been the only Net at the team's training facility of late. Deron Williams was there on Friday, and he also dropped in on Saturday morning at around 8 a.m. (He didn't speak to the media.) In fact, about half the team has already been stopping by -- and it's only been three weeks since the season ended.

King said the impact of the shortened season's jam-packed schedule hasn't seemed to be an issue, in terms of guys needing more rest. But the appearances may have had a little something to do with extra motivation from the GM himself.

"Also, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and MarShon Brooks [have been here]," King said. "So a lot of our guys have been back in the gym. As I told them, I said, 'You can take time off, but if you start working out, you get ahead of the game.' Really what they're doing is spring training."

Here are some other noteworthy nuggets from King:

1. On his trip to Turkey: "Turkey was good. I was able to watch the [Euroleague] Final Four, see some good games. I obviously saw Deron there, I saw Mikhail [Prokhorov] there. It was a good trip." (King didn't discuss details of his time spent with either of them.)

2. On meeting with Bojan Bogdanovic -- the Nets own his draft rights (from 2011), but he has one season remaining on his contract with Fenerbahce in the Turkish League: "We had a good meeting. He's anxious to come over and play. In due time, we'll talk about his contract so we can get him out. He had the NBA League Pass and watched all our games, so he's as anxious as the day we drafted him."

3. On Gerald Wallace, who has a player option, but has publicly said he wants to return to the Nets next season: "We've had conversations with his representatives because actually we can talk about the potential of [an] extension if he opts in. We'll leave that there." (The Nets likely won't make a move with their free agents until they know Williams' definite plans.)

4. On the Nets' potential draft pick(s): "I always look at the draft as if we like a player, then we go find a pick, whether we end up with one, two or three or 57. We'll be aggressive. The good thing about having all these GMs and personnel here is getting a chance to talk and try to make deals." (The Nets will only have a lottery pick if they land a top-three selection. If they end up between six and nine, the pick will go to the Portland Trail Blazers, based on the Wallace trade. No matter what, though, they'll have the 57th pick.)

5. On his philosophy when analyzing prospects: "The one thing I learned from Donnie Walsh when I was an assistant coach in Indiana, he said, 'If this is where you're making your evaluation, you're too far behind.' We've seen these guys play 5-on-5 in college, so this is just another part of the process. What we base our decision on is really what they've done with their college program. This is more just to get their real measurements, see if they pick up the NBA pick-and-roll and the coaching."

6. On what he's looking for from the players during the combine: "We try to see how the guys pick up stuff from the coaches, see how they play 5-on-5, how they share the basketball, who's in shape. We had some casualties of guys not in shape, and that's what it really comes down to. ... If you can find a guy with an NBA skill, that's what you're looking for. If a guy can do everything, then they're Dwyane Wade, LeBron James -- they're the All-Stars. But if a guy can do one or two things great, an NBA skill, that's what you look for."

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Nets Brooklyn bound: Will things change?

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
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For 86 years, the Red Sox had “The Curse of the Bambino.”

Since 1945, the Cubs have been -- as the legend goes -- cursed by a Billy Goat.

On July 1, 2010, the Nets put up a billboard that said “The Blueprint for Greatness,” featuring owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z.

It’s only been two years -- so it’s far from curse-worthy -- but nothing has gone their way ever since.

In the summer of 2010, the Nets were favored to win the lottery and get the No. 1 pick. They lost and got the No. 3 pick.

That same summer, the Nets tried to sign coveted free-agents LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer. They ended up with Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro.

During the season, the Nets tried and tried again to execute a blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony. But Melo wanted no part of New Jersey. So he was dealt to the Knicks, and GM Billy King countered by landing Deron Williams out of nowhere.

The Nets finally had their superstar -- with one huge caveat. Williams could opt out of his contract after the 2011-12 season and become a free agent. King knew this, so, following a 24-58 finish to the 2010-11 campaign, he decided to try and reel in a big man to pair with D-Will.

It didn’t work out. Top target Tyson Chandler went to the Knicks, and Nene elected to re-sign with the Nuggets, leaving New Jersey with a team short on talent once again.

Williams announced his intentions to opt out before the 2011-12 season started, and it only got worse from there.

The Nets failed to jell in training camp. And since then, they’ve been decimated by injuries. Brook Lopez, Damion James, Keith Bogans (waived), Jordan Farmar, Mehmet Okur (since traded) and Shawne Williams (since traded) were all lost to season-ending injuries, leaving D-Will without much help.

Coming into Monday night’s home-finale, the Nets had lost 238 manpower games due to injury, illness or personal reasons, an average of 3.7 players per game, and started 24 different lineups. They went just 9-24 at home this season, and struggled on defense and in first quarters. Several D-Leaguers have been called up. Only Gerald Green has been a pleasant surprise.

They thought they were going to land Dwight Howard, but it became one big “Dwightmare,” and D-12 opted to stay in Orlando because of “loyalty.”

King got Gerald Wallace from Portland -- a great all-around hustle player -- but had to sacrifice the team’s top-3 protected 2012 first-round draft pick to do so. The move was highly criticized, viewed as a risk for a franchise that has taken many and gotten burned just as many times. Now, the Nets (22-43) are tied for the sixth-worst record, meaning they only have a 6.3 percent chance of winning the lottery and getting the No. 1 overall pick.

After 35 years in New Jersey, the Nets are moving to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center in 2012-13. Their slogan has been “Jersey Strong. Brooklyn Ready.”

Right now, the only guarantees for the franchise are a new building and that MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams are under contract.

Otherwise, the only certainty is a lot of uncertainty. Eleven of the 15 players on the Nets’ roster are eligible to be free agents in some capacity. Coach Avery Johnson mentioned several -- D-Will, Wallace, Kris Humphries, Lopez and Green -- by name when asked why New Jersey fans should follow the team to Brooklyn, but who knows if they will.

“After the season, guys are going to sit down with their families and decide what’s best for them realistically,” Brooks said after the Nets wrapped up their 35-year tenure in the Garden State with a 105-87 loss to the Sixers. “It’s a business. Whatever team we go to Brooklyn with, we’re going to have to be ready to play.”

The borough of Brooklyn hasn’t had a professional sports franchise since 1957, so there’s going to be a buzz around the Nets. But for how long?

A new building and new uniforms are all well and good, but the Nets must be competitive. And to be competitive, they have to re-sign Williams. He has said he intends to stay -- assuming the Nets put the right pieces around him. They haven’t yet. And even if they do, everything else has to fall into place.

If recent history is any indication, it won’t happen. In 3 1/2 decades, the New Jersey Nets went 1,186-1,635 (.420). And aside from the Jason Kidd era, they didn’t win anything.

Now, they’ll turn the page. Maybe, to avoid a future curse, they should’ve changed their name, too.

Lopez's absence too much to overcome

April, 6, 2012
4/06/12
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The Nets have missed an NBA-high 205 games due to injury, illness and personal reasons through the first 56 games of the season.

By the time the 2011-12 campaign comes to a close, Brook Lopez will have missed 61 games by himself.

Lopez’s injury-plagued season -- one seemingly filled with one disappointment after another -- officially came to an end on Friday, when the Nets announced he was done for the year.

The 24-year-old center had never missed a game in his first three seasons in the NBA, and the Nets were looking forward to pairing him with All-Star point Deron Williams to see what the two could accomplish together on the court.

But Lopez, who had been working so hard to improve as a rebounder and appeared to be making significant strides in that facet of his game, fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot during the team’s final preseason game on Dec. 21, and missed the first 32 games of the regular year -- and 33 of the first 34 -- as a result.

By the time he returned, the Nets had stumbled out to a 9-23 start. After scoring 24 points in his first two games combined, Lopez erupted for 38 points -- one short of his career-high -- on Feb. 28 in a 93-92 upset victory over the defending champion Mavericks, giving the team hope that there were better things to come.

But after dropping 28 points in a loss in Boston on March 2, Lopez sprained his right ankle in Charlotte two days later.

At first, he was only supposed to miss three weeks. But a CT scan revealed a “small line” that hadn’t been discovered before, and three weeks turned into five weeks.

So, by Friday -- with just 10 games remaining in the season -- Lopez, his representation and GM Billy King came to a joint decision: he’d sit out the rest of the year.

Lopez is going to be a restricted free agent, so it made no sense for him to come back and risk further injury in what has become a lost season for himself and his team.

Lopez is still young and possesses plenty of upside, as well as an interior scoring ability that few other centers in the league can match, so he figures to get a significant raise from the $3.1 million he made this season in the last year of his rookie contract.

The Nets will be able to match any offer made to Lopez over the summer, and can go over the salary cap to sign him because they have his Bird Rights; Lopez’s cap hold is $7.7 million.

Williams and Lopez -- who the Nets had hoped would be a dynamic inside-outside duo capable of making a playoff push together this season -- have played just 17 games together, going 6-11 in those games (4-8 in 2010-11, 2-3 in 2011-12). And if Williams leaves in free agency, the two will never have played one truly meaningful game together.

While Lopez has spent most nights in a suit on the bench, Williams has been forced to make due with centers like Shelden Williams and Johan Petro.

The results haven’t been pretty: The Nets rank dead-last in points in the paint and next-to-last in defensive rebounding.

They’ve started 22 different lineups and played 21 different players -- and won 33.9 percent of their games as a result.

They would’ve been a much better had Lopez been healthy. Maybe they even would’ve made the playoffs.

Instead, they may end up wondering what could’ve been.

Nets can't catch a break

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
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Kobe Bryant laughed.

How else could he react after hitting that shot?

The Nets defended the inbounds before that shot about as well as you can defend an inbounds.

Didn’t matter.

With the Lakers about to get called for a five-second violation, Bryant flared out five feet behind the 3-point arc unguarded at the top of the key. Just 2.3 seconds remained on the shot clock.

So Bryant caught the pass and quickly let one fly.

The ball hit the back rim, then hit the front rim, bounced, hit the front rim and hit the back rim -- twice.

According to The Heat Index’s Brian Windhorst, the whole process took about 1.9 seconds.

Bryant took the shot with 10.1 seconds left. Somehow, someway -- after making its first carom off the rim at 8.7 seconds -- the ball finally fell through the netting with 6.8 seconds remaining.

Lakers 91, Nets 87.

That’s how it ended. The most agonizing of bounces going the other way.

The Nets’ three-game winning streak is over. The fact they came back from a 17-point deficit to put themselves in a position to get a win over the Lakers in Los Angeles? Impressive nonetheless.

Coach Avery Johnson said his team was going to play out the season trying to win every game the rest of the way. On Tuesday night, they almost did.

An 18-6 Nets’ run -- capped by a cold-blooded deep 3-pointer from Deron Williams with 1:29 left -- erased an 80-68 Lakers’ lead in the fourth quarter.

Bryant hit a pull-up jumper from the left wing over Williams’ outstretched arm 10 seconds later to make it 88-86 Los Angeles.

Gerald Wallace, the Nets’ heart and soul these days, got fouled on the other end, but split a pair of free throws.

Ramon Sessions missed a 3 on the ensuing Lakers’ possession, but Pau Gasol grabbed the offensive rebound. That’s when the Nets turned up their defensive intensity, forcing the Lakers to inbound the ball under their basket with less than three seconds remaining on the shot clock and 10.8 seconds left on the gameclock.

That’s when one of the greatest players to ever play the game got a little lucky.

Talk about a lethal combination.

In the end, the Nets (19-36, 12-17 road) can take solace in the fact that they appear to be coming together as a team. In the short term, Wallace has provided everything they’ve been missing: defense, versatility, hustle and leadership.

Unfortunately, it’s come too late.

The Nets have been decimated by injuries. They’ve been woeful at home. And pre-Wallace, they were on pace -- by one advanced metric -- to be the worst defensive team in 20 years.

The Nets had their chance to make a playoff push. They failed. Losses to New Orleans, Cleveland and Washington put them in the predicament they’re in right now: playing out a lost season with an uncertain future starring them in the face.

Williams, the most-coveted-prize-on-the-free-agent-market-to-be, who had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth, gave ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande basically the same answers he gave Yahoo! Sports a day earlier before the game. The same answers he’s basically been giving since he announced his intentions to opt out and become a free agent before the lockout-shortened season began.

He’s not ruling out the Nets. Brooklyn is enticing. He loves living in New York.

At the same time, Williams is going to keep his options open. And why shouldn’t he?

For the first time in his career, he holds all the cards, has all the control.

The Nets knew this when they pulled off the blockbuster trade to get him.

But they took a risk, a risk the Knicks would’ve been willing to take had they know Williams was available the deadline last season.

Hard to blame them. This is, after all, a superstar’s league. And the only way to get one is either getting lucky in the draft lottery, signing one via free agency or making a deal.

The caveat was that Williams wasn’t locked up. The Nets have done everything in their power to ink Williams to a max extension. They’ve treated him like a King, allowing him to have a say in who he plays with.

They wanted to pair him with Brook Lopez, but Lopez has been plagued by injuries and has only played five games in 2011-12.

They wanted to pair him with Dwight Howard and thought they had a deal done, but Howard changed his mind 8,000 times in the course of two days and ultimately ended up staying in Orlando.

Wallace has been far-and-away the best player Williams has played with during his time in New Jersey -- and he came at the expense of a top-3 protected first-rounder.

And now, now that they’ve finally got some sort of positive momentum building and are starting to come together as a cohesive unit, it may be too late.

All the Nets have asked for is a break or a bounce to go their way.

But that hasn’t happened all season -- so it certainly wasn’t going to happen on Tuesday night.

D-Will: Injuries killed playoff hopes

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
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The Nets are 6.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 games remaining. So unless they go on what coach Avery Johnson referred to as a “crazy winning streak” on Monday morning, they aren’t getting in.

For what it’s worth, Deron Williams thinks the Nets would’ve been a playoff team had they not sustained so many injuries throughout the season.

“I think we’ve a playoff team if Brook [Lopez] was healthy, and if other guys had stayed healthy as well,” Williams said. “We’ve had a number of injuries throughout the season. MarShon [Brooks] went down, A-Mo [Anthony Morrow] went down, Jordan [Farmar]’s been banged up all season. He’s been playing through a lot of pain from the last 2-3 weeks, we just haven’t had guys healthy. DeShawn [Stevenson], Shawne Williams. It’s just been a tough year for everybody, I think, to get any type of chemistry, especially in a shortened season where there’s not a lot of practice, guys are coming in and out, we’ve had a lot of D-League callups, it’s just hard to build chemistry.”

No team has suffered more injuries than the Nets this season.

Consider:

Shelden Williams is the only Net to have appeared in all 46 games.

• Three different small forwards -- Damion James, Shawne Williams (traded) and Keith Bogans (waived) have already been lost for the season.

• The Nets have put out 20 different starting lineups -- more than any other team.

“That’s the frustrating part about this season,” Williams said. “We haven’t had everybody healthy at the same time. It seems like once somebody comes back, another person goes down. It’s been tough for us.”

It all started when Lopez -- the team’s only interior scoring threat -- went down with a broken foot in the second preseason game. And it’s only gotten worse from there.

The Nets have had Lopez in the lineup for just five games. He’s currently out with a sprained right ankle, and the team won’t have an update on his status until Friday.

Williams had made the playoffs from 2006-07 to 2009-10 in Utah. Now, he’s about to be 0-for-2 in New Jersey.

“It’s hard to -- I don’t want to say get up for games because of course you wanna win every time you step on the floor -- but when you’re trying to make the playoffs it’s motivation to play harder and try to climb the standings, so we’ve gotta try to do that even though we know it’s going to be hard to make the playoffs,” Williams said. “It’s a challenge.”

The Nets (15-31, 5-16 home) currently rank last in the NBA in points in the paint, field-goal percent defense and 3-point field-goal percentage defense. Doomed by poor starts, they are 5-23 when trailing at the half.

Williams say he no longer gets caught up “in today.”

“Early on this year I was. It’s the only thing that was making me go crazy. So I’ve just tried to take it game by game and try to win as many games as possible, like I said, and see what happens,” he said.

Williams thinks the Nets will look different next season.

Question is: will he be part of the roster?

Weigh in: What do you think of D-Will’s comments? Let us know in the comments section.

The Translator: Dwight Howard

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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The Translator is a recurring feature of the blog where we present what someone said and what (we think) they mean by running his words through our high-tech Truth Detector.

(This idea was inspired by colleagues Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand, who I cover the Yankees with. They started it on the Yankees blog during spring training.)

Here’s what Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard had to say after his team beat the Heat on Tuesday night: “I want to finish this season out and give our team, give our fans some hope for the future. But I feel they have to roll the dice. It might be tough, but I feel we've got a great opportunity. But they've got to roll it.”

Translation: Keep me so the Nets don’t have to trade any assets to get me by Thursday’s deadline. I want to play with Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and those two 2012 first-round picks. Good luck trying to rent me (perhaps some team will emerge out of nowhere prior to the deadline). You’re not getting Andrew Bynum -- who is playing like a star, by the way -- and Golden State is out of the running. It’s been real.

D-12 has now backed the Magic into a huge corner, gone all in and put them at a franchise-changing decision for all of their chips.

Do they keep him and roll the dice that they can make a deep playoff run? Or do they try and trade him, knowing they probably aren’t going to get a good package if they do?

Larry Coon and I broke down the Nets’ potential cap situation here.

The gist of it: based on the scenario we used, the Nets need to clear a small amount of cap space to be able to fit D-12, Lopez and Deron Williams.

Given that, it can be inferred -- and reports have stated -- that the Nets are likely to try and move players like Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro and maybe even Anthony Morrow to accomplish this.

A team like the Nets would love to keep Morrow and his sharpshooting abilities -- D-12 even listed him as one of the teammates he would love to play with -- but his $4 million salary next season makes him attractive on the trade market. Farmar ($4.25 million player option) also would be a nice piece for a contender. Petro ($3.5 million next season) wouldn’t be, but the Nets will still try to get rid of him, and he is expiring in 2012-13. Shawne Williams (out for the season) has a $3.1 million player option.

Don’t pop champagne just yet, of course. Nothing is official. But if you’re a Nets fan, you have to be encouraged by these developments.

Of note: The Heat Index’s Michael Wallace asked Howard what made him change his mind on wanting to stay: “I never did change it.”

No need to translate this. Howard’s agent gave the Magic a list of three teams he’d like to be traded to: the Nets, the Mavericks and the Lakers.

He’s never backed off this. The Magic were hoping he’d change his mind. He hasn’t. And now, it looks like Howard is going to get his wish: playing for a Nets team that is loaded with talent and headed to Brooklyn.

Latest on D-12

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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It appears that the Nets remain in the driver’s seat for Dwight Howard -- but they may not be getting the Magic center by Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

The latest from ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher is that the Nets are still at the top of Howard’s wish list, and he’s content to play out the season in Orlando.

That would benefit the Nets because they wouldn’t have to sacrifice assets like Brook Lopez (restricted), MarShon Brooks and their two first-round picks in the 2012 draft to get him.

The Magic are still hopeful they’ll be able to retain Howard, and, according to Bucher, are willing to go as far as to allow him to pick a new coach and GM for the team, something Orlando has refuted. They are also trying to acquire a difference-maker that would help convince him to stay.

But with just a couple days remaining before the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline, that appears unlikely since the Magic don’t have assets that other teams want.

The Nets are in great position to land Howard because they’re moving to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center. And getting Howard would almost certainly convince Deron Williams to re-sign.

The Nets have reportedly explored adding Boris Diaw’s $9 million expiring contract in an effort to clear more cap space for the summer of 2012.

A league source told ESPN NewYork.com there wasn’t much truth to those reports, which had Jordan Farmar ($4.25 million player option for 2012-13), Johan Petro ($3.5 million ’12-13) and Houston’s lottery-protected first heading to Charlotte.

But it wouldn’t be surprising if the Nets made a move like that to clear as much cap space as possible, knowing they’re going to have to fit D-Will’s max (he’s expected to opt out like D-12), Howard’s max and Lopez’s raise -- assuming everything works out.

The Nets only guaranteed commitments for 2012-13 are Anthony Morrow ($4 million), Petro ($3.5), Brooks ($1.1 million) and Jordan Williams (762K). Like Farmar, Shawne Williams has a player option ($3.1 million).

The contracts of Mehmet Okur ($10.9 million), Kris Humphries ($8 million), DeShawn Stevenson ($2.5 million), Damion James ($1.2 million), Shelden Williams ($992K) and Sundiata Gaines ($854K) are all expiring and will come off the books.

Rapid Reaction: Heat 108, Nets 78

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
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Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The basketball gods must hate the Nets. On Monday they lost Brook Lopez, who had just returned to the lineup, for at least three weeks to a sprained right ankle. On Tuesday, playing without Lopez, they were throttled by the Heat, 108-78. The worst part: Eddy Curry played the final 5:56 and had an alley-oop jam. That’s cold.

Not that the Nets would've beaten the Heat with Lopez anyway, but they've been decimated by injury all season. For the record, the Nets did lead 7-2. At the end of the first half, though, they faced their largest first-half deficit this season, 27. From there it was just bookkeeping. The Nets (12-27), who trailed by as many as 40, have only had one winning streak this season (Jan. 25-27, two games).

TURNING POINT: The Nets got within 24-17 when Deron Williams connected on a 16-footer with 2:49 left in the first quarter. LeBron James countered with a 15-footer to make it 26-17. Williams was hit in the abdomen by James and checked out at the 2:06 mark. By the time D-Will checked back in with 10:07 remaining in the second, the Heat were ahead 39-17.

57-16: Williams scored a franchise-record 57 points on Sunday night in Charlotte. Miami’s defense is a little better. The Heat bottled up New Jersey’s only real viable offensive weapon not named MarShon Brooks, doubling the All-Star point guard on many possessions. Williams still finished with a team-high 16 points in 25 minutes. He needed 47. He also added four assists and shot 7-for-13 from the field.

STATS OF THE NIGHT: Miami’s Big 3 had 39 points in the first half. The Nets had 37. The Heat shot 70 percent in the first quarter, a season-high 65.9 percent in the first half and had 19 assists in the opening 24 minutes. James, Wade (who left the game with a tweaked right ankle) and Chris Bosh combined to shoot 24-for-33 from the field. Then they sat on the bench in their warmups for the fourth.

PLAYS OF THE GAME: Wade’s no-look layup turned three-point play in the first quarter that gave the Heat a 10-9 lead. It will be one of SportsCenter’s top plays. And if that wasn’t enough, James banked one in from half court at the end of the third quarter. Also, who could forget about Johan Petro’s 3-pointer in the final minute?!

UP NEXT: Nets vs. Clippers, Wednesday night, 8 p.m.

Lopez out three weeks with ankle sprain

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
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Nets center Brook Lopez is expected to miss three weeks with a sprained right ankle, the team announced on Monday.

Lopez will be in a walking boot, and the Nets will update his status on March 23.

The 23-year-old suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday night's game in Charlotte and did not return. He underwent X-rays later that night, but the team did not reveal the news until Monday.

Lopez left the locker room in crutches, and coach Avery Johnson said he "badly rolled" his right ankle.

The news might have a negative impact on the Nets' pursuit of Dwight Howard by the March 15 trade deadline. Lopez had been prominently mentioned in trade talks involving the Magic center.

Lopez had just returned from a broken right foot injury that caused him to miss 33 of the Nets' first 34 games.

Lopez is averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 27.2 minutes in five games.

Brook Lopez exits game with ankle injury

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
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Nets center Brook Lopez rolled his right ankle in the third quarter of a 104-101 victory in Charlotte on Sunday night.

He did not return to the game, and he left the locker room on crutches.

Nets coach Avery Johnson said Lopez had an X-ray and will be re-evaluated on Monday.

Lopez made his season debut on Feb. 19 after missing the Nets' first 32 games while recovering from a broken right foot.

"It's a tough situation for him, especially coming back from the foot situation," Johnson said Sunday. "We're going to get him checked out tomorrow."

Lopez is reportedly expected to travel to Miami for Tuesday night’s game against the Heat.

He scored 38 points in a victory at Dallas on Feb. 28, and 28 in a loss at Boston on Friday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

D-Will scores franchise-record 57 points

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
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On Sunday night, D-Will went off -- and wound up making history.

Nets point guard Deron Williams scored 57 points -- the most in the Nets' NBA history -- in a 104-101 victory over the Bobcats.

Mike Newlin (Dec. 16, 1979) and Ray Williams (April 17, 1982) shared the previous record (52). It was the Nets' first 50-point game since Vince Carter had 51 on Dec. 25, 2005.

Julius Erving scored 63 points in a four-overtime game on Feb. 14, 1975, when the Nets were in the ABA.

"I'm just happy we got the win," Williams, who scored 50 points on Nov. 23 with Besiktas, told the YES Network after the game. "Fifty points is a big deal, but if you lose and you have 50, it really doesn't matter."

Williams had 40 of his 57 points in the second half. He made all 21 of his free-throw attempts -- the second-most free throw makes without a miss in NBA history (Dominique Wilkins, 23-for-23 on Dec. 8, 1992) while shooting 16-for-29 overall from the field -- including 4-for-11 from 3-point range. He added seven assists and six rebounds.

D-Will had 10 points in the first quarter, seven in the second, 22 in the third and 18 in the fourth. Williams tied and then broke the record when he hit a pair of free throws with 2:33 left.

When it was all over, Williams set single-game career highs for points, field goals, field-goal attempts and free throws made.

"When you're hot, you kinda just gotta go with it," Williams said after the Nets rallied from a 16-point deficit. "I was able to create my offense."

Williams' previous single-game career-high was 42 against the Thunder on April 7, 2010. His previous single-game Nets high was 38 against the Knicks on Feb. 20.

"We got down big, and coach told us we'd have [Monday] off if we won," Williams said. "I have an 11:39 tee time."

Center Brook Lopez badly rolled his ankle and didn’t return after exiting with nine minutes in the third quarter. That's when D-Will took over. He scored 18 straight points for his team, and wound up with 22 of the team's 28 points during the stanza.

Williams hit an 18-footer with 1:16 remaining that put the Nets ahead 98-94, and Shelden Williams converted a crucial three-point play to give them a seven-point lead 38 seconds later. D.J. Augustine missed a long, desperation 3-pointer that would have tied the game at the buzzer.

"Great win!! DWill had the best performance I've ever seen in person in my life," shooting guard Anthony Morrow tweeted.

Coach Avery Johnson told reporters after the game that Lopez had X-rays. Asked if they were negative, Johnson responded that the Nets would have an update on Monday. Lopez was on crunches as he left the locker room, according to multiple reports, but is expected to travel to Miami for Tuesday night’s game against the Heat.

Lopez missed the first 32 games and 33 of 34 after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in the final game of the preseason.

Mavs boost Brook Lopez's trade value

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
12:26
PM ET
DALLAS -- This might have been the worst possible way, barring injury, that the Mavs could start this seven-city, nine-game, 12-night journey.

At the risk of greatly exaggerating a regular-season game, Tuesday's loss to the lottery-bound Nets could have major ramifications on the future of the Mavs' franchise.

AP Photo/Tony GutierrezBrook Lopez doesn't rebound like Dwight Howard, but that 38-point outburst had to be appealing.


That's assuming Orlando general manager Otis Smith checked out the game on League Pass while the Magic had a night off.

The Mavs let big man Brook Lopez, the potential centerpiece in a package that could send Dwight Howard to the Nets, showcase what a skilled 7-footer he is. Lopez, playing just his third game of the season, lit the Mavs up for 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting from the floor.

Lopez scored on all sorts of shots in the paint -- drives, post-ups, finishes off defensive breakdowns -- and even displayed 20-foot range.

The Nets are the primary threat to deal for Howard before the March 15 deadline, and that's the one deal the Mavs really don't want to see go down.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban isn't about to lay out his offseason intentions, but it's pretty clear than Plan A is convincing Howard and Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams to take a little less than max offers to join Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas.

Who wouldn't want to pair the best big man in the NBA and a top-five point guard as they're just entering their primes? The Nets would sure love to make that happen before they move to Brooklyn.

Plan B for the Mavs: Sign Howard. Plan C: Sign Williams.

All of those are off the table if Howard lands in New Jersey next month, and the possibility of that happening had to increase a little bit with Lopez looking like Hakeem Olajuwon against the Mavs.

Rapid Reaction: Nets 93, Mavericks 92

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
11:05
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Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Hello? Otis, it's Billy King. Did you see what our center did on Tuesday?

In just his third game of the season, Brook Lopez poured in a game-high 38 points -- one short of his career-high -- hit two decisive free throws in the final minute and helped the Nets snap an 11-game losing streak in Dallas, beating the defending NBA champion Mavericks, 93-92. The Nets (11-25) have now won three of their last five games. The last time they had won in Dallas was March 2, 2000.

TURNING POINT: The Mavericks missed their first 13 shots of the fourth quarter -- covering a span of 8:35 -- allowing the Nets to regain a 10-point lead. Dallas countered with a 13-2 run to go ahead 92-91 on Jason Kidd's first field goal of the game -- a 3-pointer -- with 48.9 seconds left. Lopez connected on a pair of free throws on the other end 6.5 seconds later. The Mavericks had a chance to win after Jason Terry picked Anthony Morrow's pocket -- one of 12 Nets turnovers in the second half -- but Kidd missed a long jumper from the left wing at the buzzer, allowing the Nets to prevail.

BROOK'S BACK! Lopez gave the Nets something they haven't had all season: a dominant finisher in the low post. At one point, he scored 13 straight points for his team in the second quarter, and had 21 points in the first half. The Mavericks tried to use a matchup zone to try to slow the Nets offense, but had to abandon it because Lopez was wreaking havoc on the interior.

Lopez had 24 points combined in his first two games back after missing the first 32 games of the season with a broken right foot. Lopez now has 15 30-plus point games in his career. In 36 minutes on Tuesday night, he shot 17-for-28 and added six rebounds. If he keeps playing like this, maybe Magic GM Smith will be more willing to trade Dwight Howard to the Nets.

GOOD: Gerald Green looks like a keeper. In his Nets debut after signing a 10-day contract Monday, the 26-year-old looked like the best small forward the team has had all season. He was quick, aggressive and showed an ability to knock down the 3 and finish at the rim. His final stat line read 10 points in 18 minutes. The Nets' small forward position earned the worst "BAD" rating of any position in the NBA from ESPN.com’s John Hollinger.

D-WILL: Deron Williams had 10 points in the first quarter, but didn't have a field goal after that. So much for that great shooting background at American Airlines Arena. D-Will shot 3-for-15 and finished with 12 points, 12 assists and four rebounds. He had scored 20-plus points in his previous seven games.

SUPPORTING CAST: Morrow added 15 points, while Kris Humphries chipped in 10 points and 15 rebounds.

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Kidd, Vince Carter, Yi Jianlian, Brandan Wright and D-Leaguer Sean Williams all used to play for the Nets. Ex-Maverick DeShawn Stevenson received his championship ring from the 2011 title team. Humphries, Green and Shawne Williams all used to play in Dallas. Avery Johnson used to coach the Mavericks. D-Will grew up near Dallas. His younger brother is going to attend prep school in New Jersey. Let the conspiracy theories begin.

STATS OF THE NIGHT: The Nets -- the worst transition scoring team in the NBA -- had 25 fast-break points and outscored the Mavericks 42-36 in the paint. The worst team in the league in terms of defensive efficiency, New Jersey held Dallas to 36 percent shooting -- the lowest any team has shot against the Nets. The Mavericks shot 14 more free throws than the Nets.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Hump's emphatic one-handed alley-oop slam from MarShon Brooks, which gave the Nets a 17-11 lead in the first quarter.

FARMAR OUT: Jordan Farmar sat out with a groin injury.

UP NEXT: Nets at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Nets' midseason report card

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
10:51
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Call it a "process." Call it a "Dwightmare." Call it "the end of an error." Call it whatever you want. The point is, the Nets' final season in New Jersey has been an utter disaster.

Decimated by injuries, a lack of continuity and a flawed roster, the Nets have struggled mightily in the first half of the season, and enter the All-Star break with a 10-25 record -- third-worst in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn is the Nets' destination next season, but the future remains uncertain. Will Deron Williams stay? Will Dwight Howard end up with the Nets via trade or free agency?

For now, coach Avery Johnson isn't concerned. Most nights he doesn't even know who he's going to start. Consider: The Nets have used 17 different starting lineups this season -- more than any other team in the NBA. Also consider: The Nets have been plagued by poor starts all season, and are 4-19 when trailing after the first quarter. Oh, and they've struggled to a 3-13 record at the Prudential Center.

Now on to the grades. Check them out here.

Dwight Howard avoids media

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
1:05
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Dwight Howard didn't even give the media a chance to ask him questions.

The Magic center briskly walked past a pack of reporters after watching film at Prudential Center on Wednesday morning prior to the team's game against the Nets.

It has been well-documented that Howard -- who is likely to opt out of his contract and leave the Magic if he isn't traded before the March 15 deadline -- would love to team up with Deron Williams, forming a dynamic duo once the Nets move to Brooklyn in 2012-13.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrook Lopez (left) and Dwight Howard were at the center of preseason trade talk.


The Nets appear to be rolling out the red carpet for Howard on Wednesday night. A group of workers was seen putting together a pyrotechnic show. The Nets only bust that out for special occasions, it seems. They used it in their home opener as well.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wanted no part of questions surrounding his center's future.

He answered "no" when asked if it felt any different playing in New Jersey, if he'd talk to his team before the game and if the whole D-12 situation felt "shady" given that Howard's agent had given the Magic a list of three teams he'd like to be traded to: the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers.

Asked if he had dinner with Howard on Tuesday night, Williams responded, "I don't know? Did I?"

The Nets figure they're going to have to deal with questions surrounding Howard until the trade deadline -- if not through the offseason as well.

"We're gonna have to manage it," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "Billy [King] and I laugh all the time. Sometime between March 1 and March 15 his phone's going to be blowing up and going crazy all night long. And I just told him I'm glad he has that job. Mine's gonna be off and on silent.

"We're gonna be glad when March 16 rolls around."

And if there isn't a resolution?

"We're glad that at least our name is in the news," Johnson said.

Asked if all of this is a distraction, Williams responded, "I don't think it’s a distraction at all, nope. Not here. It hasn't been discussed."

Center Brook Lopez's name has been prominently mentioned in rumors surrounding Howard. But he said he's ignoring them and is excited to play his second game this season after sitting out with a broken foot.

"I don't think it hurts that it's Dwight," Johnson said. "I don’t know if he has it circled for the individual matchup, but he's got it circled because he wants to play and get back to his normal minutes and playing the way he wants to play and become a much improved rebounder."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8