No Nets Headed for Houston

The announcements began at 7:21 p.m. ET Thursday, when the NBA on TNT crew first ran down the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star reserves, opening with Heat big man Chris Bosh. They continued on through Knicks center Tyson Chandler, Bulls center Joakim Noah, Pacers forward Paul George, Bulls forward Luol Deng, 76ers guard Jrue Holiday and Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

There were no Nets.

The team that debuted in Brooklyn, that ranks third in the Eastern Conference, that has pushed its record to 10 games above .500, will not be represented in Houston.

Six-time All-Star Joe Johnson will not travel for the first time in seven seasons, and three-time All-Star Deron Williams will not go back-to-back after making the team last season. Center Brook Lopez will not make his first appearance. Neither of the guards expected all three to be unannounced.

“I don’t see that happening,” Williams said, after Wednesday’s victory in Minnesota. “I just don’t see that happening.”

And yet, Williams found himself explaining the unexpected at Friday’s shootaround in Memphis.

“It’s weird,” Williams said. “It’s one of those things where you never know what’s going to happen.”

Lopez wielded the strongest statistical case for inclusion, leading the Nets with 18.6 points and 2.11 blocks per game, also shooting a team-high .521 from the field; Lopez (7.4 RPG) ranks second in rebounding only to Reggie Evans. He ranks fifth in the NBA with a 25.42 Player Efficiency Rating, a statistic developed by now-Grizzlies VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger while working for ESPN.com.

Among Eastern Conference centers, Lopez’s averages rank first in points, 10th in rebounds, third in blocks and fourth in field-goal percentage. But this year, “Center” was not an option, left off the ballot by the league in favor of three “frontcourt” positions for either a forward or a center.

The 24-year-old center only half-joked Wednesday that he would avoid the announcement.

“You know I never watch any of that stuff,” Lopez deadpanned. “I’ll probably be sitting in my room with the lights turned off, doing nothing. That’s my life.”

Friday, Lopez repeatedly deflected the attention to Williams (17.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists) and Johnson (17.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists), telling reporters each was an All-Star and it was hard to envision an Eastern Conference squad without either player. Each member of “Brooklyn’s Backcourt” said they would watch the announcement while consuming food. Their meals continued on with some sense of finality, that at least now they knew.

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