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Brook Lopez sidelined at least a week with lower-back strain

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez looks on against

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez looks on against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Just as LeBron James and the British royal family are coming to town, that dreaded injury bug has victimized Brook Lopez again.

An MRI taken Sunday revealed Lopez has a strained lower back and the Nets say he will be re-evaluated in a week, meaning he will miss at least the next four games, including Monday night's contest against the Cavaliers with Prince William and Princess Kate in attendance.

Lopez wasn't at the team's facility very long Sunday. In fact, Nets coach Lionel Hollins didn't catch a glimpse of his 7-foot center before team trainer Tim Walsh took him to get examined and diagnosed.

"I didn't even see Brook today," Hollins said. "We were out here warming up, and he was in the training room, and Tim came out and said we are going to take him for an MRI, he's strained his back."

If there's a silver lining, at least this latest ailment doesn't involve Lopez's feet. He's already missed a total of 136 games with an assortment of foot problems since the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12, including sitting out the first two games of this season with a mild right midfoot sprain.

However, back injuries can be tricky, linger or flare up at any time. Kevin Garnett knows all about that, having dealt with back spasms last season that cost him 19 consecutive games near the end of the his first campaign with the Nets.

So Garnett couldn't pretend there shouldn't be a level of uneasiness surrounding Lopez, who averaged 19.7 points, 10.3 points and 1.7 blocks in his last three games.

"Is it a concern? Yes, absolutely," Garnett said. "One of your best players, it's a concern when he's hurt. We are hoping for the best with that situation."

Garnett said he may advise Lopez how to cope and manage things if necessary. He believes the Nets have one of the league's best trainers in the veteran Walsh, who has been on their staff for 15 years and last month was named the league's 2013-14 athletic trainer of the year, and is sure Lopez is in good hands.

But Garnett can speak from personal experience about the complex web of issues that can sometimes arise with back problems. "The back is a very, very detailed injury, very frustrating for myself," Garnett said. "I was very frustrated with the injury. I learned a lot, just dealing with the body and not taking things for granted. So hopefully Brook is OK, not just for basketball but for his own personal health."

Notes & quotes: Joe Johnson (stomach virus) and Andrei Kirilenko (personal) also did not practice. Johnson is listed as probable . . . Garnett on the royal family attending the game: "I'm fortunate to be around something like this, so obviously I'm going to enjoy whatever comes with it. I think the focus here is Cleveland and we can't forget that. I think everybody's wives and girlfriends are a little more excited than we are."

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