PHILADELPHIA—By Lenn Robbins
Just when it seemed as if the Brooklyn Nets season could not have taken another turn for the worse, it did.
The team announced Saturday morning that star center Brook Lopez suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot in Friday night’s 121-120 overtime loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia. The Nets will consult with their physicians and update Lopez’s condition next week.
If Lopez’s injury requires a lengthy recovery, the Nets season is in peril.
Coach Jason Kidd recently decided to run the offense through his 7-foot big man. The Nets won 4-of-5 since making that decision before losing to Washington and then Philadelphia.
Lopez suffered the injury in the second half. He came up limping with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter after getting tied up with Philadelphia’s Lavoy Allen, but it’s not certain that the injury occurred at that point.
What is certainly possible is that the Nets (9-17) might have taken one too many body blows. They already have lost Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and Andrei Kirilenko to injuries although none potentially season ending.
Lopez fractured the same bone during the 2011-12 season and missed 32 games. He had surgery after last season to replace a bent screw in the foot. He suffered a sprained left foot against Phoenix on Nov. 15, creating immediate concern that Lopez might begin placing too much pressure on the right foot.
The Nets were extremely cautious in bringing him back. They held him out the next seven games. He returned on Nov. 29 and played at a very high level. He tweaked the left ankle again on Dec. 12 and missed two more games.
Lopez had averaged 20.7 points on 58-percent shooting, six rebounds and 1.76 blocked shots. Even before his injury was announced the Nets were reeling.
After the 121-120 loss to Philadelphia, a team the Nets beat by 36 earlier in the week, Williams and Alan Anderson said enough was enough. The Nets got outscored in the paint, 66-30 and outrebounded, 49-36, two areas of concern that will be more vulnerable without Lopez.