Is Brook Broken?

This has been a tough season for Brook Lopez, and Wednesday night might have been the breaking point. The Nets lost 89-81, and one reason was the low energy Brooklyn brought to the game,

That low energy was exemplified by Lopez allowing Celtic forward Jae Crowder to run after him for a loose ball down the court. Crowder was fouled by Darius Morris and he made both free throws to give Boston a 69-62 lead at the time.

Lopez said of the play, “I didn’t realize Crowder was behind me. It was just a very poor night for me. I expect more of myself.”

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of possibly being frustrated seeing that play, “Of course. Just tell him that he was being lazy. That’s all it is.”

Aside from this infamous play, it was a tough night for Lopez, as he had just 6 points on 2-for-7 shooting, with 5 rebounds in 17 minutes and 27 seconds. He played just 2:08 of the fourth quarter, as Hollins stuck with new starting center Mason Plumlee, who played the entire fourth.

The thing is it’s not like Plumlee was having a great game either, as he shot just 5-for-11, which is a big deal considering all of his shots are within five feet of the hoop. Plumlee had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the game, his seventh double-double of the season.

The real test of Hollins’ faith in Lopez came on Monday night when Brook took advantage of what now is a rare start and had 18 points in the first quarter and was highly effective against Dallas center Tyson Chandler. Entering the fourth quarter of that game, Lopez had 22 points on 11-for-18 shooting and 11 rebounds, while Plumlee had 6 points on 2-for-4 shooting and 5 rebounds. Guess who Hollins went with in the fourth quarter?

Hollins played Plumlee for 8:14 of the fourth, and he had one point, a free throw, no shot attempts, and just 2 rebounds. Lopez, despite leading the team in scoring, played just 3:47 of the fourth and missed two shots and grabbed a couple of rebounds. In overtime, which Dallas outscored the Nets 14-6, Plumlee played three minutes and Lopez two.

The thing about Monday night’s game that is bothersome is that Hollins has proven to be a coach that goes with the “hot hand” in big minutes down the stretch, but it’s obvious that it did not extend to Lopez in this situation.

It’s obvious that Hollins has no faith in him, and the slight of Monday night seemed to carry into Wednesday.

After Wednesday night’s game, Lopez, who kept his head down while talking to the media, said of his performance, “It wasn’t great. I definitely disappointed myself. The effort was poor out there, and I let my teammates down.”

Lopez said of the team effort, “It’s definitely a step backwards, and there was a lull. We kept fighting – the group we had out there in the end. We kept going. We didn’t give up.”

It must be getting to Lopez that he was the anchor of this offense and is passed over in the big moments for Plumlee, who can best be described as a dunk specialist. If Plumlee cannot get open for dunks, as was the case Monday night, he should not be out there, and Hollins should recognize it. Lopez is the best overall center they have, and has been proven, when healthy to be a guy to consistently score 20 points a night no matter the opponent. Plumlee feasts on bad teams like Boston on (16 points on Wednesday), Orlando (18 points on Friday, Jan. 2nd), Sacramento (22 points on Dec. 29th), while flounder against elite teams like Dallas (7 points on Monday night), Chicago (6 points on December 30th and 8 on December 10th).

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