Lopez Out Friday, Evans Will Return
Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, rehabilitating a sprained right foot, will be out for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors and return at the earliest on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks, coach Avery Johnson said in a Thursday conference call. With the Nets not holding practices either Wednesday or Thursday, Lopez joined a few others in workouts; his consisted of light, straight-ahead running and lots of shooting, all without contact.
"Once we see how he recovers today, that'll dictate what he does on tomorrow," Johnson said. "If recovers well, and he can go through some parts or all parts of shootaround, then great. We'll check him out again and see where he is on Saturday. Right now, ti's about confidence, it's about recovery and at some point the other really really big 'C' word – it's going to be about contact. Until we can put him in contact, he's not going to have confidence and we're not going to have confidence to put him in a game."
Though the Nets will be without starting center Lopez, the frontcourt rotation will be bolstered by the
likely return of Reggie Evans, who missed Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder after coming down with the flu. Johnson said the team is "very hopeful" Evans will be available (UPDATE: The Nets confirmed the news Friday morning), providing them a rebounding force (8.4 RPG in 19.6 minutes off the bench) with defensive intensity that often raises the level of his teammates' focus and performance.
Johnson said that Evans' case of the flu was an isolated incident, and no one else displayed symptoms. Once Evans retruns, Lopez becomes the only missing piece, and the Nets don't want to rush the center, who missed all but five games last season with a fracture in his right foot. (The current sprain is an unrelated injury.)
"He just needs time to heal," Johnson said. "Obviously, we'll be conservative because of the history, but we're not going to be super conservative to where we make him sit out three, four, five more games than he should. The kid wants to play."
Andray Blatche, starting in Lopez's place for three games, has averaged 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, shooting .532 in 29.3 minutes.