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Brook Lopez's ligament sprain different from past injuries

Brook Lopez celebrates a second-half basket with Deron

Brook Lopez celebrates a second-half basket with Deron Williams during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. (Nov. 23, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Avery Johnson probably could have counted every granule of sand in an hourglass as he awaited definitive word on Brook Lopez's health.

"It felt like a year. It felt like a year," the Nets coach said before Friday's shootaround at Amway Center. "I'm sitting outside and I'm looking at my phone, and once we got the news of where he is, that was really good news for us. We caught a break and hopefully, he'll be able to get back. Hopefully once he gets back, we won't have any other setbacks."

Lopez, who missed all but six games last season dealing with two separate right foot injuries, has been diagnosed with a ligament sprain in the middle of his right foot. He's expected to miss the final two games of the Nets' three-game road trip, including Friday's game against the Magic in Orlando and Saturday's game versus the defending champion Heat in Miami.

The plan is to have Lopez, whose precautionary X-rays were negative, re-evaluated Monday.

In a statement, team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Riley Williams III, explained the nature of Lopez's injury and how it's unrelated to what sidelined him for the bulk of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

"The area of Brook's previous fracture at the fifth metatarsal bone was unremarkable and unchanged compared to prior [X-ray] films," Williams wrote. "He reports tenderness over the top of the foot. This area corresponds to ligaments that connect the tarsal or midfoot bones."

Lopez was relieved when he learned of the diagnosis.

"Man, I was thrilled, honestly," he said while lying on the trainer's table. "It's a much better position than I could have been . . . I was nervous, especially right after we got the X-rays and they sent them back. I was very nervous.

"It's good that it's a different area. We don't think it's anything in that same vein. We think it's something much smaller that's new."

The 7-footer was injured roughly midway through the third quarter of Wednesday's win over the Celtics in Boston, and initially believed he had just sprained his ankle. But he still isn't sure how the whole thing happened.

"I wish I knew, really," Lopez said. "It was just when I drove against [Kevin] Garnett on that one play and landed on my right foot. I couldn't tell you."

With Lopez sidelined, Andray Blatche started . That way, Johnson was able to still have Reggie Evans' rebounding and defensive prowess coming off the bench. Mirza Teletovic, who's played in only one game since Nov. 9, might also find himself in the rotation.

However, replacing the presence of Lopez isn't easy. He is averaging a team-leading 18.5 points per game to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

"Challenging. Big mountain," Johnson said of playing without his big man. "We are going to have to step up, especially with the way he's been playing. And on the defensive end, those blocked shots and the way he contests shots in the paint -- even the ones he doesn't get. He does a good job of going after penetration, better than he ever has. Then obviously, offense, the points, drawing double teams, running the floor. So yeah, we are definitely going to miss it.

"But other guys are going to have to step up and I mean that literally."


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