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Nets won't rush Brook Lopez back from foot injury

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez reacts to a

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez reacts to a foul call on his team in the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. (Nov. 20, 2012) Credit: AP

Brook Lopez is in the look-but-don't-touch phase of his recovery.

The Nets' 24-year-old center, who is nursing a right foot sprain, took part in a light individual workout Thursday that included running and shooting but no lateral movement and, most importantly, no contact.

"Until we can put him in contact," coach Avery Johnson said in a conference call, "he's not going to have confidence and we're not going to have confidence to play him in a game."

That means Lopez will miss his fourth straight game when the Nets take on Golden State Friday night at Barclays Center. Johnson said that depending on how Lopez's foot responds, he could participate in "all parts or some parts" of the shootaround Friday morning and practice Saturday. If he can withstand full contact, he could return Sunday against Milwaukee at the earliest.

After missing all but five games last season because of fractures in his right foot, Lopez, who is averaging 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and a career-high 2.5 blocks this season, is being treated conservatively.

"Right now, there's no pain," Johnson said. "Now it's a point of building confidence, trying to get him not only running on the court but moving lateral. We're just not there yet . . . The one thing you don't want to do is put him out there too soon and then he overcompensates in another area because he's still not confident in the foot."

Johnson said power forward Reggie Evans, who missed Tuesday night's 117-111 loss to the Thunder because of the flu, is feeling better. Johnson hopes to have him available for Friday night's game.

Without the option of posting up Lopez down low, the Nets seemed to play more up-tempo against the Thunder. Backup center Andray Blatche may not protect the rim the way Lopez does, but he has filled in admirably on the offensive end, averaging 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in three starts.

"He's never lacking in confidence," Johnson said of Blatche. "He still, in his mind, thinks he's a starter . . . I think he's got something to prove. He wants to prove that he's a good teammate and he can be a player that a coach can count on."

Notes & quotes: Gerald Wallace became the second Net, joining Reggie Evans, to be fined $5,000 for a flopping violation. Johnson was asked if he is concerned about the fines affecting their style of play. "Not at all," he said. "You'll see those guys want to take out, in a sense, any frustrations they may have towards a fine by playing better defense to help our team win."

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