Andray Blatche next man up for Nets

11/29/2012 2:41 PM ET
By Jon Lane

Brook Lopez is hurt again, and the Brooklyn Nets are hoping it’s the best-case scenario and not a case of history repeating itself.  And for as long as Lopez is out – the Nets announced on Thursday that their starting center will miss at least the next two games with a mild right foot sprain – Andray Blatche, the man who wears Numeral Zero, must play like he’s the No. 1 man in the middle.

While X-rays on Lopez’s foot were negative, it’s the same foot where he suffered a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal that forced him from all but five games last season. Through 14 games Lopez has been worth the four years and $60 million the Nets invested in him after they couldn’t work out a trade to bring Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. Lopez is averaging 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting over 53 percent for a Nets team that’s won four straight and nine out of 11.

The earliest the Nets could have Lopez back is next Tuesday when the team returns home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder. Until then, the Nets will likely turn to Blatche, the leader of the “Bench Mob” who scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds with two steals in Wednesday’s win over the Boston Celtics.

Amnestied by the Washington Wizards in the summer, Blatche has been reborn in Kings County and on Monday let a year’s worth of frustration with his former employers off his chest during an interview with 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. During the 20-minute conversation, Blatche claimed a lack of support from the team, fans and media ruined his reputation last season.

"I'm quite sure they can ask every last one of my teammates here and I guarantee you what they say about me is completely different than what y'all think of me in D.C.," Blatche told the station. "For them to say, 'Oh, he's a bad teammate. He's a cancer in the locker room.' He's this and that. All that was a bunch of lies! A bunch of lies. That's what really made me mad. That showed me, they tried to end me.

"To be honest with you, me being amnestied from that team, that was one of the biggest things to help me. Now I'm in a whole different organization, a different part of my life that I'm going to be able to succeed in."

Blatche added that Brooklyn “has his back.” The ‘Zero Hero’ now gets a chance to continue to return the favor in a larger role.

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