With Kevin Garnett Out, Brook Lopez Returns To Starting Lineup

Brook back? Well, uh, kind of.

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez will start Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls, marking his first since hitting the inactive list nearly a month ago following a lower back strain, coach Lionel Hollins told reporters prior to the game.

Lopez replaces Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup, who will sit for rest after playing 21 minutes Monday night in the team’s 107-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Lopez suffered the back injury on December 7th and returned to the team roughly two weeks later, averaging 6.3 points and four rebounds in four games off the bench.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Lopez will return to the lineup permanently, as the Plumlee-Lopez combo has struggled to produce, and Garnett is merely taking the night off for rest, as 38-year-olds do.

But Lopez also looked more comfortable in Monday night’s win, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds in under 12 minutes of playing time, both highs since Lopez returned to the bench.

Tonight’s a chance for Lopez to make a strong case for his return to the starting lineup; Chicago is a big, tough team with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol in the frontcourt, and Noah in particular has given Lopez fits in the last three years in Brooklyn.

Tipoff at 8 P.M. EST.