Brooklyn Nets center and generally tall human figure Brook Lopez hasn’t played in a professional basketball game since December 20th, 2013, when he broke a bone in his right foot to end his season early. In his first real game back from the injury, it took him some time to get re-acclimated to playing in an NBA-style offense, picking up early fouls and missing his first three shots.
Thankfully, the Oklahoma City Thunder offered up sacrificial lamb Perry Jones III, who feebly contested what was otherwise an open one-hand dunk for Lopez, which broke the seal on his shooting night: Lopez ended up making six of his final seven attempts.
“I thought he needed that to get going,” Joe Johnson said of Lopez’s dunk in the locker room following the team’s 116-85 victory. “I think he had missed a few chippies and got a lot of quick fouls. I could see how antsy he was to be out there. I know he was a little frustrated, so I was glad he got that dunk to get him going.”
Sure, the Nets were already up 19 at the time of this dunk (and that in and of itself is a good sign — the Nets took care of a depleted team without needing Brook Lopez to carry them), but Lopez didn’t show any trepidation going inside, and ended up taking more and more of his field goal attempts in the paint in the second half.
Lopez finished with 18 points in just under 24 minutes on 6-10 shooting, tied for the team lead with backup swingman Alan Anderson. The Nets expected it to be harder for him, but not because of his own ability. “Honestly, what really shocked me was that (the Thunder) didn’t double-team him,” Johnson added. “Not one time. But it was great seeing him out there.”
“I think it’s hard (to double-team Lopez) because we have shooters all around him,” Deron Williams opined. The Nets finished 11-23 from three-point range on the night, with five players hitting at least one three-pointer. “I guess they have confidence in their big man defending him.”
Lopez was just excited to get through a real game again — and come out the other side.
“I can’t put it into words,” Lopez gushed about getting back on the court. “It was great to be back out there. I missed it for a long time, and our team definitely took care of business tonight. Our guys made it easy.”