After missing seven straight games in which the Nets went 2-5, Brook Lopez returned to the floor back on Dec. 14 when the Nets played the Pistons and played the following night when the team traveled to Chicago to play the Bulls on Dec. 15.
This bodes well for Lopez.
Brook Lopez went thru full practice today. Might still have a minutes limit Tues, but will play more than 24 mins, Avery Johnson said.—
Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) December 17, 2012
The Nets are pretty protective of their players when returning from injury. Avery Johnson is known for having strict rules about making players available after a hiatus. Lopez’s minute restriction upon his return was 24, and Johnson pulled him from Saturday night’s game against the Bulls at a critical time.
Ahead by six points with 5:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, Johnson pulled Lopez from the game since he’d hit his 24 minute mark. Without Lopez in the game, the Bulls were able to close the gap and eventually pulled the game out.
Despite “only” playing about 26 minutes, Lopez finished the game with 18 points on 8-for-17 shooting and an impressive 10 rebounds. Because he was able to effectively contribute on on the second night of a back-to-back, some believed that he was fully back and should not longer be limited.
Coach Johnson and the Nets medical staff feel differently, though.
Johnson wouldn’t say what the limit on Lopez is, and it will probably depend on how he feels tomorrow morning after having participated in basketball related activity three times in four days.
Moke Hamilton, NBA AnalystThis is the right call for the Nets. Lopez is far too valuable to the team to cause any kind of re-aggravation, so treading on the side of caution makes sense.
The Nets play the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at Barclays Center and then travel to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks on Wednesday. I’d be surprised if Lopez played more than 30 minutes in either of those two games. As long as he holds up, he’ll probably play with restriction on Dec. 23 when the Nets play the Philadelphia 76ers back at Barclays Center.
After the Knicks game on Wednesday, they’ll have three full days off. That’s a huge pro for a team trying to get (and stay) healthy.