Avery says Lopez is “close.” His defense is currently cigarless


via ESPN New York:

Nets coach Avery Johnson says center Brook Lopez is “close” to being the same player he was before he sprained his right foot and missed seven games.

Avery Johnson says Brook Lopez is regaining confidence following a lengthy absence. “He’s getting there. Everyday he’s building more and more confidence,” Johnson said.

Lopez, 24, is averaging 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and shooting 43.9 percent from the field since returning from the injury (four games).

Johnson said he is no longer on a minutes restriction.

While his offense has certainly taken a step back — 43.9% from the field is well below his pre-injury numbers — it’s again the defense that suffers most. With Lopez on the floor during the past four games, the Nets’ defense has been a full nine points worse per 100 possessions, most notably in New York, where Tyson Chandler carved through Lopez’s stodgy pick-and-roll defense with ease.

Read more: ESPN New York — Avery: Lopez ‘close’ to his best