How did Lopez minutes restriction hurt the Nets?
Lopez had played about half the game while posting 18 points and 10 rebounds -- nine points and six rebounds more than he posted during the same amount of action in his return to the lineup Friday night after missing seven games because of a sprained right foot.
At that point, Lopez's night should've been over. The game should've been over, too.
Neither was. And, as a result, an encouraging performance by Lopez was overshadowed by what transpired in next 4 minutes, 25 seconds.
Let's take a look at the Nets' possessions over that span:
• 5:01: Turnover, Joe Johnson • 4:13: Missed shot, Andray Blatche • 3:32: Missed 3-point shot, Johnson • 2:47: Missed shot, Deron Williams • 2:00: Williams makes two of thee free throws • 1:30: Turnover, Blatche
In those six possessions, the Nets went 0-for-3 from the field and committed two turnovers while being outscored 6-2.
That prompted Avery Johnson to re-insert Lopez at the 1:25 mark with his team ahead by just two.
The rest of the Nets' possessions went like this:
• 1:05: Turnover, Johnson • 0:39: Missed shot, Lopez • 0:06: Missed shot, Williams • 0:00: 3-pointer, Williams
Prior to D-Will's buzzer-beater, the Nets had nine possessions, went 0-for-5 from the field and committed three turnovers while being outscored 12-2. They lost, 83-82.
So what exactly does this mean, the fact that Brooklyn squandered a lead with Lopez on the bench? It means that Lopez, as he has been all season, is the Nets' most valuable player. With him in the lineup, Brooklyn is 11-5, including 4-4 against .500 or better teams. Without him in the lineup, Brooklyn is 2-5, 0-5 against .500 or better teams.
"Brooklyn's Backcourt" has shown flashes of brilliance -- Joe Johnson's buzzer-beater on Friday night being the latest -- but for the most part, Johnson and Williams have been disappointments. And who knows if they'll develop any sort of consistency.