Brook Lopez was soaking in the Nets' season-opening win Saturday night, assessing his own performance, when he started lamenting his work on the boards.
Lopez had dropped a game-high 27 points, but it was that digit in another statistical category that had him a little bummed out. The 7-footer collected five rebounds, which, by the new standards he's trying to create for himself, is a little too low.
"I'm a little disappointed in my rebounding," Lopez said after the Nets' 107-100 win over the Raptors at the Barclays Center. "It's something I've focused on. I thought I was there. I just didn't get a few to go my way. I'm still happy I focused on it.
"I just didn't get the actual numbers, but the team game was fantastic. That's the more important thing."
Lopez's showing drew rave reviews from his teammates and coach, who know how critical his efforts are to their overall success. He seems to have fully recovered from the foot injuries that caused him to miss all but five games of last season's lockout-shortened campaign.
Known more for his laid-back game, Lopez was assertive early and often, making himself a presence in the paint. His strong move with 59.4 seconds left led to a key three-point play, something he'll look to build on when the Nets host Minnesota Monday night.
"Brook was a beast," Joe Johnson said. "If he keeps playing like that, I'm sure he will start drawing double- teams . . . It makes us a difficult team to guard. If you are not going to double-team him, like you saw [Saturday], he'll beat you. Then if you do, then you have guys like myself, Deron [Williams], C.J. [Watson] who are going to knock down shots and make plays."
Lopez spent time in the weight room in the offseason and said he's in there more than he's ever been. Coach Avery Johnson hopes those extra hours will turn into improved forcefulness on the interior by his big man.
"One of the things I tell him is I want to see what you do in the weight room translate to the court," Johnson said. "I didn't see that when I first got here. I'm hoping because of his increased strength and conditioning, he'll be much more physical during these stretches of the game, get to the free-throw line, make strong shots, get blocked shots.
"That's what we are hoping for, that what he's done in the offseason will start translating more."
Lopez also can keep an eye on some of the subtle parts of Reggie Evans' game. If anyone knows how to mix it up inside and assert himself, it's the veteran power forward, and he liked what he saw from Lopez.
"He was real aggressive, so that was great," Evans said. "It's good to see the big fella like that go down and eat real good."