As the Los Angeles lakers fought their way to a 122-112 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs, veteran Brook Lopez found himself on the bench down the stretch along with other starters.
That had often been the case for Lopez earlier this season as he struggled with his new role. The month of March was a different story, however, as injuries as well as a renewed focus on his post game, saw Lopez’s minutes and production increase significantly.
The last couple of games have been a struggle again for Lopez, but head coach Luke Walton loves what he has gotten from his big man this season.
“He’s been unbelievable for us. He was hurt at the beginning of training camp, he was playing with a new team, new coach, new system,” Walton said.
“I think as he got more comfortable and knows what we’re looking for out of him, he’s one of the most skilled bigs in our game,” Walton added. “I think he’s just really found a nice comfort level, and he’s been playing unbelievable for us for about a month or month and a half.”
Lopez averaged 18.7 points in March while shooting 55.4 percent from the field in 31.2 minutes per game. It was by far his best stretch of play and showed that he still has plenty to offer.
There were some rough times for Lopez as he wasn’t playing the minutes he was used to. But Walton is happy that he never let that bleed into his game on the court, or his relationship with teammmates.
“Even times where he seemed to be frustrated, he never let it affect how he treated his teammates. And he wasn’t going out there, knowing he’s a free agent and shooting every time he touched it to try to get his points,” Walton said. “He stayed within the team and was the ultimate professional through the whole thing.”
It would have been easy for Lopez to just start looking out for himself and try to pad his stats. After all, like Walton noted, he is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
But he stayed focus on the team concept, which says a lot about Walton’s ability as a coach. Whether he remains with the Lakers beyond this year remains to be seen, but Walton believes he has been a positive this season.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB