The Brooklyn Nets received good news to begin their week when center Brook Lopez went through a full practice on Monday. Although he still might have a minutes limit, head coach Avery Johnson said Lopez will play more than 24, his cap in the Nets' last two games, on Tuesday against the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center. It's a positive sign that Lopez, who missed seven games with a sprained right foot, played in consecutive games last Friday and Saturday with no setbacks, and seems poised to do the same against the Jazz and on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks.
Lopez is averaging 17.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks with his .523 shooting percentage is in the league's top 20. The Nets are 1-1 since Lopez's return, needing Joe Johnson's game-winner in the closing seconds of a second overtime to defeat the Detroit Pistons and falling apart down the stretch in falling to the Chicago Bulls. It's clear the Nets are a different team with their big man and have fingers crossed that he can finally stay healthy for a long period of time. Lopez's presence among the starting five returns chemistry and cohesiveness to the 'Bench Mob.' The second unit has missed Andray Blatche's energy and Reggie Evans' grit. The former started in place of Lopez and the latter has relegated Kris Humphries to the second string.
In 33 combined minutes over the weekend, Humphries scored six points -- all against the Bulls. Perhaps a return to starter is in line at least for Humphries' peace of mind and for the Bench Mob to be at full strength. With the Nets are optimum capacity for all but six games missed by Gerald Wallace, they raced to an 11-4 start. Wallace is healthy and has been excellent, and it's clear Lopez is back in a groove, so a short week with games against the Jazz, Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday afternoon is a prime opportunity to at least take two out of three.
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