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That dunk turned it around for Brook Lopez

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez dunks against the

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half at Barclays Center on November 3, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Lionel Hollins was not at practice Tuesday for the Nets, but Brook Lopez was. And that is good news for Brooklyn.

Hollins, the Nets' first-year coach, missed practice because of what the team said was "personal reasons," but Lopez, who played his first game of the season in Monday's 116-85 win over Oklahoma City, was present, and completed the practice without incident.

Lopez said the sprained right foot that caused him to miss the first two games of the season felt "good" after Tuesday's workout.

"It was a little sore, but I felt good," he said.

Lopez played 23 minutes, 52 seconds in his first game since Dec. 20, 2013. Surgery to correct a broken bone in the same foot ended his season prematurely last year. Lopez was quite effective Monday, scoring 18 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots. He overcame a slow start that featured three early fouls and three missed shots before a dunk with 2:43 remaining in the second quarter seemed to turn things around for him. He finished 6-for-10 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the foul line. Lopez said that the dunk made a difference.

"Yeah, I don't know if I just felt more comfortable once that happened, but it definitely got me back in the game and everything kind of felt back to normal after that," he said.

And after being able to practice the day after, Lopez said he's convinced that the injury is behind him, and he won't have wake up each morning to see how he feels and if he can play or not.

"No, no. That's why we . . . took a few extra days just to make sure," he said. "And now that I'm back on the floor, I'm playing. I'm one of the guys."

He's one of the key guys, actually. His 18 points tied him for the team high on Monday, and he said he never worried that his time out of the lineup would leave him out of sync with the rest of the team. Lopez missed 18 days after spraining his foot in a preseason game in China on Oct. 15.

"I've been around, so I've seen what they've been doing," he said. "I was obviously playing when they inserted the framework of the offense, so we all know the principles [of the offense]; we know what we're supposed to do."

New York Sports