In a first-round playoff series marred by Brooklyn inconsistency, Brook Lopez that has given the Brooklyn Nets a fighting chance. The 7’ center has averaged 23.6 PPG, 8 RPG and 3.4 BPG in his first five playoff games.
And after Lopez helped his team stave off elimination in Game 5, nearly everybody had something to about the young star’s 28 point, 10 rebound game that saved the season for Brooklyn.
Interim Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo praised Lopez’s performance, noting that he has continued to prove doubters wrong. "He hasn’t played well, he’s played excellent. On both ends he has rebounded well. Sometimes he’s crabby and he says he’s got 20 points, 5 blocked shots and a few assists, but he didn’t get any rebounds, but he’s also been doing that too.
"He’s played a complete game and I think he's played very aggressive, which is really good. Its not like he wasn’t a good player before this year, but I think he’s taken it to a new level, hopefully continuing to do it in the playoffs validates it more. Making the all-star team was great, the year he had was great, but coming into the playoffs and continuing to play the way he’s played, that solidifies his position."
Carlesimo added that Lopez deserves to make one of the three All-NBA teams.
Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau kept it simpler: "He’s huge, he’s huge. He had a huge night, and we’ve got to come up with a better answer."
"How can you say he’s not a top-two center in the league?" Reggie Evans glowed after the game to reporters. "I’m not talking about in the East. I’m talking about in the league, period. How many big men can go down low and trust them to hit a jumper, hit a post-up move? People don’t know it: Brook is going to be one of the best big men before you know it."
Can anyone stop Brook Lopez right now? With a hobbled Joakim Noah looking more and more like a liability as the games pass and Carlos Boozer, a notoriously average defender, trying to lock up Lopez, things look bright for Game 6 and beyond.
Nets guard Deron Williams says he saw a certain look from Brook Lopez Monday night, and knew that something special was happening right in front of him. "You could see the look in his eyes tonight, he had it going. He was rebounding the ball, he was scoring the ball. He has been great defensively for us all series with his block shots and just clogging up the paint. He was just a monster tonight."
Of course, in typical Brook Lopez fashion, he tried to play his successful night off modestly. After being asking about playing like a star against Chicago, he replied: "I consider myself a player on the Brooklyn Nets. I’m just one of the guys and I want to be known as a great teammate and someone who would be there to back them up."
Lopez’s playoff career-high with 28 points was the fifth straight playoff game that he has scored 20-plus points. The last Net to score 20-plus points in at least five straight playoff games was Vince Carter, who accomplished the feat in eight straight playoff games over a two-week span in 2007. He is just the fourth active player to score at least 20 points in each of his first five playoff games.
And in the cherry on top of the 7’0 center blossoming into a superstar was tweeted by Beckley Mason of the NY Times after last night’s game:
Impressive stats: Brook Lopez is leading the playoffs in block % and Off Rebound % while scoring 23.6/gm on .586 TS%.
— Beckley Mason (@BeckleyMason) April 30, 2013
Can Brook Lopez keep it up? Can he help keep Brooklyn’s inaugural season afloat in Chicago? No one is certain yet, but one thing is for sure: as Evans astutely pointed out, "Brooklyn has something to be real thankful for."