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Brook Lopez named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The Brooklyn Nets including center Brook Lopez, left,

The Brooklyn Nets including center Brook Lopez, left, react late in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Friday, March 27, 2015. The Nets defeated the Cavaliers 106-98. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The NBA on Monday recognized just how well Brook Lopez has been playing lately, naming him the Eastern Conference player of the week for his part in leading the Nets to a 3-1 record in their last four games.

The announcement was made after practice, so when he spoke to reporters, Lopez didn't know he had been honored. But when asked to speculate about it, the 7-foot center -- who averaged 28.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.25 blocked shots last week -- said if he did win the award, it would be because of the team's improved play and not just based on his statistics.

"It definitely would be a testament to the way the team is playing," he said. "If we lost every game, no question, it wouldn't be the same situation. But we've all been playing very well, so it'll be a good reflection of where we're at right now."

It was the first time in Lopez's six-year career that he was given the honor. He was the second Nets player to be named the conference's player of the week this season, following Deron Williams, who won it for the week of Nov. 3-9.

Coach Lionel Hollins said it was before a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 2 that he finally gave up on trying to get Lopez to fit into the more traditional defense-and-rebounding-first mold of a center.

"I just understood that he wasn't going to be a dominant post-up player, and that we had to play differently with him for him to be effective," Hollins said. "I just told him, 'I'm not going to try to make you something you're not. Just be who you are.' "

Lopez, who will turn 27 Wednesday, is averaging 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds and shooting 50.6 percent this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and Hollins made it clear that he hopes he'll be back with the Nets in 2015-16.

"Obviously, I'd like for him to be back,'' Hollins said. "I hope he's gonna be back. But those decisions are not mine and I don't worry about them."

To no one's surprise, Lopez politely refused to address the subject of his potential free agency.

"I haven't thought about the possibility," he said.

Notes & quotes: Williams, who missed practice Saturday because of illness but had 13 points and nine assists in Sunday's victory over the Lakers, missed practice again Monday . . . Forward Thaddeus Young, who has missed two games because of a strained left knee, took some shots at practice. The Nets listed Young as questionable for Tuesday night's home game against the Pacers.

New York Sports