TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsBasketballNets

Nets' Lionel Hollins wants better defense, rebounding from Brook Lopez

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez watches from the

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Credit: AP / Don Ryan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The sight of starting center Brook Lopez relegated to the bench in the fourth quarter is becoming more commonplace at Nets games. He again was a spectator during the fourth quarter of Saturday night's 99-87 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio, and the way coach Lionel Hollins sees things, there's no assurance that will change.

"He can score," Hollins said of Lopez after practice Monday. "He needs to be better defensively, he needs to be better rebounding, he needs to be better passing the ball to his teammates."

Lopez, who scored only six points Saturday night and didn't talk to reporters after the game, admitted Monday that he isn't playing well. But when asked what he needs to do to be on the floor at the end of the game, he deferred to Hollins.

"I don't know. [Hollins] is going with the [lineup] looks he wants," Lopez said. "He's the coach and that is how he controls it."

Hollins is not the first Nets coach to be disappointed by Lopez's defense, passing and rebounding, but he refuses to believe Lopez isn't capable of improving in those areas.

"There's people that come into this league and their whole life they're only asked to do one thing," Hollins said. "And when you get to this level, it takes a little more to win. I'm trying to ask [Lopez] to do those things.

"If you had been able to see practice today, you would've seen some really nice passes [by Lopez]. It's just being aware and trusting that your teammates are going to make plays, and understanding the game better."

Lopez said his passing will improve as he begins to read defenses better and understands where the open man is when he is double-teamed.

"I know that even when I have been at my best, I know there's tons of room for improvement," Lopez said. "There's always room for improvement . . . Every player in the league can improve."

Deron Williams agrees with Hollins that Lopez can improve.

"Pretty much every coach that we've had the last three years has said they want Brook to be more aggressive, they want him to rebound better," Williams said. "He knows that. He's making adjustments. I think he just needs to just settle down right now. He's just getting the rust off. He's missed a lot of time the last couple of years."

Notes & quotes: Williams, the Nets' player rep, declined to comment when asked about NBA commissioner Adam Silver's criticism of the Nets' high payroll. In an interview with GQ magazine, Silver said he'd prefer a hard salary cap. "I still think it's unhealthy for the league when a team like Brooklyn goes out and pays an exorbitant luxury tax in order to give themselves a better chance to win," he said . . . Williams attended the Giants game Sunday night and, like everyone else, was amazed by the spectacular one-handed catch made by Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. "I said before I looked at it again, I was like, 'How can you say best catch ever?' There's a lot of great catches. And then I saw it again. Pretty freaking amazing."

New York Sports