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Brook Lopez adjusts to new role with Los Angeles Lakers

From NBA media reports

* Tonight on NBA TV: Rockets vs. Lakers (9:30 ET)

The evolution of the game has its casualties. The pace and space era has claimed a few who could not adapt to the subtle nuances of the prevalent style in the NBA today. But Brook Lopez did his best to adapt, expanding his game beyond the paint where big men of his ilk have thrived for generations.

Still, during his first season with the Lakers Lopez has found himself watching as the Lakers go with a smaller lineup — Julius Randle at center — to take advantage of the versatility of some of their younger and quicker talent. Lopez is working to find his way, as Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times points out, but it hasn’t been easy. And every outing, the Lakers host the Houston Rockets tonight (9:30 ET, NBA TV), is a bit of an adventure for the veteran center:

Lopez has been in a bit of a slump lately, as he adjusts to a role with the Lakers that doesn’t always guarantee playing time.

“It is different for me for sure,” Lopez said. “I am used to being out there. I love being out there on the court trying to help my team whenever I can. Obviously I am going to understand and accept my role wherever it may be as long as it helps the team.”

Lopez made one three-pointer Saturday night, ending a four-game drought involving the skill he’d taught himself in order to adapt to the modern NBA. But the modern NBA also means teams often go small, and that is costing Lopez minutes.

“One of our biggest strengths is our switching lineup with Julius [Randle] at the five,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “That doesn’t allow the opportunity to get him back in there and the game is being played like that and momentum is being built up where you normally go back to your starters, but the way Julius has been playing, [Lopez] doesn’t get that next chance so his minutes are down from his average in his career.”

Lopez has averaged 23.2 minutes per game this season, easily his lowest average of his career. He played 23 on Saturday and scored 15 points.

“I always pride myself on being an inside and outside player and pride myself on what I can do inside the paint,” Lopez said. “I have to get back to doing that.”