By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez made himself into the best at his position this season, and he is continuing to build up that reputation in his first-ever playoff series.
Lopez was the biggest scorer among centers in the NBA during the regular season, and in the playoffs, he is taking his place among the NBA’s elite scorers.
In the regular season, Lopez had 19.4 points-per-game, which was best among centers and 10th highest overall. The only other center that is as much a scoring threat as Lopez is the Lakers’ Dwight Howard. The mold for an NBA center now is Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins, who is out there purely for defense. This started when Perkins was in Boston with the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, and did not have to score at all, just intimidate on defense.
In this first-round series with the Bulls, Lopez is averaging 23.6 points. This is the sixth most points per game in the NBA behind Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Stephen Curry, and LeBron James, who are all viewed as big-time scorers.
The Bulls have had no answer for him, as their center, Joakim Noah, is suffering from a plantar fasciitis injury that is cutting down his explosiveness at times.
Lopez scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in each of the first two games of this series in Brooklyn. When the series shifted to Chicago, he turned it up a notch. He had 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks in Game 3 last Thursday.
In the epic Game 4 that Chicago won, Lopez did all he could to will them to vctory. He had 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting (he has shot around 50 percent for the entire series), with 11 rebounds, and four blocks. The most impressive thing about Lopez in that game was that he took just three personal fouls in 51 minutes of play.
With the Nets facing elimination on Monday night in Game 5, Lopez turned it up a notch. He scored 28 points, 11 of which came in the second half, on 11-for-20 shooting. Lopez grabbed 10 rebounds, for his second double-double of the series.
He also had his best defensive effort of the series in Game 5, holding Joakim Noah to 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He also was instrumental in holding the Bulls’ biggest scoring threat in the frontcourt, Carlos Boozer, to 4-for-8 shooting as well and just 10 points. Boozer averaged 20.3 points-per-game in the first four games of the series.
Lopez was asked after Game 5 on Monday night if he sees his himself as an NBA star, and he replied, “I consider myself a player on the Brooklyn Nets. I’m there with my team, I’m just one of the guys”
Lopez in his postgame press conference after Game 5: