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Brook Lopez is a BIG man, thanks to his time off last season

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Facing off against Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez knows value of strength

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

When Brook Lopez was out last season, Jeremy Bettle, the team's strength and conditioning coach, got him on a regimen to bulk up. It's worked. He weighed in at 280 pounds Saturday, 15 pounds more than he did his rookie season four years ago.

It's made a big difference in his play. His defense has improved, his rebounding has improved, his offense has improved. On Tuesday, he may or may not go up against his nemesis, Dwight Howard, depending on D12's back and shoulder pain. If he does, the Nets believe he will be better prepared.

"We've got a 7-footer with presence around the basket," P.J. Carlesimo told Newsday. "It's night and day. His attention to defense is so much better than it was before and it's helped our team defense significantly."

Lopez says the year off helped and not just the weight training.

"I got to spend lots of time in the weight room and watching film," he noted. "I know all good defenses have a good big man in the middle."

Is he ready for Howard? Are the Nets ready to move on from the Dwightmare?