The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t make any splashy moves in the offseason.
That doesn’t mean coach Terry Stotts isn’t happy with one big addition.
That big player is Stotts’ starting center, Robin Lopez.
Lopez came to Portland from New Orleans as part of a three-team trade that included the Kings.
Lopez, the twin brother of Brooklyn All-Star Brook Lopez, doesn’t come with the acclaim of his brother. He’s been on three teams since being a first-round pick of Phoenix in 2008.
But in Portland, Lopez is positioned to be a big part of a playoff team as he’s been a big reason the Trail Blazers have been near the top of the Western Conference most of the season.
The 7-foot, 255-pound Lopez has given the Blazers a big body in the middle that can impact games defensively. And Lopez has fit into a the locker room, too.
“He’s fit seamlessly with the way we play on both ends of the floor,” Stotts said. “He takes a lot of pride in what he can do. Not only as an individual defender but as a team defender. He’s a great teammate; players like playing for him.”
Lopez is averaging 10.2 points and is on pace to set a career high with 8.3 rebounds per game. He also averages 1.5 blocked shots and is playing a career-high 30.6 minutes per game.
The Blazers weren’t looking for an offensive threat when they acquired Lopez, but he has contributed with his scoring on a team that has plenty of offense from the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard.
“He’s better offensively than we probably expected, but I think that’s also in part because of how we play and how we pass the ball,” Stotts said. “He finishes around the basket, he’s making free throws. He’s been a very welcome addition on both ends of the court.”
Brooklyn has been trashed more than once this season in this space. But the Nets have stood up lately, with the veterans rallying behind coach Jason Kidd and winning five in a row before Saturday’s loss.
The Nets had held all their opponents under 100 points during the winning streak.
The NBA’s two most storied franchises are in a race for a high draft pick.
The Lakers, winners of 16 NBA championships, are 1-10 in their last 11 games and are 21/2 games out of last place in the Western Conference.
The Celtics, with their 17 championship banners, took a seven-game losing streak into Saturday’s game and also are fading fast in the Eastern Conference. But in the woeful East, the Celtics are only two games out of a playoff spot.
Both teams are waiting on injured All-Star guards to return.
The Celtics are seeing improvement from Rajon Rondo, who reportedly would like to return by the All-Star break.
The Lakers are waiting on Kobe Bryant’s fractured leg to heal after his brief return from a torn Achilles’ tendon.
“Should have put that (expletive) in my contract.” – Nets forward Kevin Garnett expressing his preference to reporters he’d rather not play center and the lengths he should have gone to not have to play center. Brooklyn’s All-Star center Brook Lopez is out for the season with a broken foot.