Nets' Lopez out Friday vs. Golden State
With the starters given both Wednesday and Thursday off from practice after Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City, Brooklyn head coach Avery Johnson held a media conference call on Thursday morning where he updated the status of his center.
In the call, Johnson said that Lopez is feeling a little better and went through a light workout earlier in the morning, but wasn’t ready to begin training for game activity yet.
“Brook did some light running and lots of shooting, but no defensive work; more just a straight ahead workout to build some confidence in running straight ahead, with no contact and no lateral movement,” Johnson said. “He’s doing better, but he has to be able to get through a full-contact practice before he’ll be released to play, and we're not sure when that’s going to happen. He’s making some progress, but he’s not ready to play in a game right now.”
The earliest timetable for Lopez is now Sunday’s game against Milwaukee, depending on how Lopez reacts to his workouts over the next few days.
“We’ll see how he recovers from what we did today and what we do tomorrow,” Johnson said. “Once we see how he recovers from today, that will dictate what he does tomorrow. If he recovers well and can go through some parts of shootaround, great; if not, then we’ll check him out again and see where he is on Saturday. Right now it’s just about confidence and recovery, and at some point, it’s going to be about contact. Until he sees that, we’re not going to have the confidence to play him in a game.”
Sunday will mark 12 days since Lopez suffered the injury, and while that’s not necessarily a lengthy timetable by Johnson’s standards, it is one that he said was hindered slightly by their trip to Florida last weekend.
“Brook was in a boot for a couple days, and I think we were all thinking of a real conservative approach because we hadn’t gotten him back here to see our team doctor,” Johnson said, “but once we got back, and he had an MRI that ruled out a real serious injury, then it was about trying to get him back on his feet, out of the boot, and walking around. I don’t want to say it’s taken him longer, I think it’s pretty much on schedule based on what the doctors told us, and he’ll do more and more as he can tolerate it and feel more confident.”
Johnson also said that Lopez’ history of foot and ankle issues – including the one that cost him 61 games last season – is a concern, but won’t affect his recovery timetable from this injury.
“He just needs time to heal. Obviously we’ll be conservative because of the history, but we’re not going to be super conservative in that we’ll make him sit out three or four more games than he should,” he said. “The kid wants to play, and I think when we decide the time is right for him to play – the doctors, (trainer) Tim Walsh, myself, (Nets GM) Billy (King), and Brook – we’ll make the right decision. The one thing you don’t want to do is put him out there too soon, and have him overcompensate in another area because he’s still not confident in the foot.”
Andray Blatche, who has averaged 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds over the last three games while starting in place of Lopez, will once again be with the first unit on Friday, and the Nets may also have a key reserve back to bolster the frontcourt as well.
“I talked to Reggie (Evans) last night, he said he’s feeling much better, and we’re hoping that he’ll continue to get better,” Johnson said of his rebounding specialist, who sat out Tuesday’s game because of the flu. “I’ll check on him again today, and we’re very hopeful that he’ll be available tomorrow.”
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