Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — After the Nets lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, Brook Lopez was just as silent as he was during the game’s fourth quarter.
And that’s bad, because he spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench.
All season long, Lopez has been a topic of discussion. It was either rumors of him being traded, concerns about his health, whether he deserved to be an All-Star and the merits behind the NBA’s Eastern Conference coaches failing to vote him as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Now, after representing the Nets in Houston, the question we are now asking is what exactly is wrong with him.
Since the break, the lone All-Star from Brooklyn has been a shell of his pre-All-Star break self. In the four games the Nets have played since then, Lopez has shot 25-of-61 from the field—just 41 percent. Since then, he’s averaging 15.3 points and five rebounds per contest.
In three of the past four games, Lopez has found himself parked on the bench down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
It’s gotten to the point where P.J. Carlesimo is concerned about whether riding the pine will affect Lopez’s confidence moving forward. “Without question,” he said when asked. “I will have to talk to him about it.”
In what was a noteworthy occurrence—and uncharacteristic of Lopez—after the Nets 76-72 loss to the Grizzlies on Sunday night, he left Barclays Center without speaking with the media.
There was some conjecture as to whether he and a few of his teammates leaving without speaking was some sort of silent protest against the critical no call that seemingly cost them the game, but Lopez’s flight was especially noteworthy since he’s become a crunch-time bench fixture just one week after representing the Nets as the first ever Brooklyn All-Star.
Shortly after the loss—and before the media had the opportunity to speak with him—Lopez and Andray Blatche were seen leaving the Nets locker room with general manager Billy King. MarShon Brooks wasn’t far behind them and Gerald Wallace followed thereafter. None of those four spoke.
Blatche has played well in place of Lopez and that has probably made the decision to bench him a bit easier. “I thought that [Blatche] was playing very well on both ends and was playing good defense,” Carlesimo said after the loss. Blatche finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
He also turned in solid efforts in the other two games in which Lopez struggled. At Milwaukee on Wednesday, Blatche had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds and he chipped in 14 points and six rebounds when the Nets hosted the Bucks the night before.
Moving forward, the Nets will need to get Lopez on track. With Joe Johnson limited by his sore heel and Williams battling an assortment of miscellaneous bruises and ailments, Carlesimo’s team will need to collectively pick up the slack. And the slack was especially evident on this night.
Aside from Blatche and Deron Williams (24 points), C.J. Watson was the only other Net who scored in double figures. The Nets got just 26 total points from the bench. Gerald Wallace was held scoreless and Reggie Evans contributed just two points.
The opportunity for redemption will come on Tuesday night when the Nets travel to New Orleans to battle Antony Davis and his Hornets.