PJ Carlesimo Admits Error in Benching Brook Lopez

Brooklyn Nets head coach PJ Carlesimo has kept his star center, Brook Lopez, glued to the bench in the fourth of the last two games (which the Nets lost). Carlesimo admits that his baffling decision was a mistake, and plans to rectify it going forward. Per the NY Times: “Brook Lopez spent the fourth quarter on the bench—for the third time in four games—while his teammates sputtered to a 76-72 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Of all the moves made by P.J. Carlesimo since his ascension to head coach, none are more puzzling than his sudden lack of faith in Lopez to close out games. Lopez is the Nets’ most reliable offensive option, averaging 18.7 points and shooting 51.1 percent from the field. He has been their defensive anchor, averaging 2.1 blocks. Those statistics propelled Lopez to his first All-Star Game this month. The benchings have all come since then. Lopez has looked a little wobbly since returning from Houston, which sometimes happens to young players after making their All-Star debuts. The weekend is chaotic. Still, if the Nets have learned anything this season, it is that Lopez is every bit as critical to their success as their veteran stars, Johnson and Deron Williams. With Johnson out the last two games, Lopez’s role perhaps should have increased. Yet Lopez never left the bench in the fourth quarter Sunday, or in the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Houston. Carlesimo acknowledged his error Monday, telling reporters: ‘I created the situation, and it’s not a good situation. I worry about it that I need to address it, and I worry about it that I need to watch what I do going forward.’ The only thing Carlesimo did not seem worried about was Lopez’s frame of mind, and maybe that is part of the problem. Lopez is a star without ego, which is great for team chemistry but not so great for a team’s offense. The dominant big men — Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard — demand the crunchtime minutes and the ball. Lopez seems all too content to cede his fourth-quarter minutes to Andray Blatche. ‘I have complete faith in him when he’s in the game,’ Lopez said last Tuesday, when Blatche played the final quarter in his place in an overtime win over Milwaukee. It is a refrain Lopez has repeated many times this season.”