By Ben Golliver
December 21, 2013

(Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)Brook Lopez was averaging 20.7 points and six rebounds for the Nets. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

The Nets announced Saturday that center Brook Lopez fractured the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during the Nets' 121-120 overtime loss to the Sixers in Philadelphia on Friday. The injury will end Lopez's 2013-14 season, according to and the New York Daily News.

The sixth-year center previously missed all but five games during the 2011-12 season after breaking the same bone in his right foot twice in quick succession. Back in June, the Stanford product underwent an additional surgery to address a screw that became bent after being implanted during an earlier procedure. 

It wasn't immediately clear exactly when Lopez sustained the injury, but he finished with 22 points (on 9-for-19 shooting) and seven rebounds in 44 minutes of action against Philadelphia, and he played during the fourth quarter and overtime. However, Lopez fell to the court and clutched his right foot in pain after being fouled by Thaddeus Young on this play midway through the fourth quarter.

There's no sugar-coating this: losing Lopez is a massive blow to the Nets, who opened the season with aspirations of competing for a title and instead they currently find themselves stuck outside the playoff picture in the weak Eastern Conference. Lopez was averaging a team-high 20.7 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game this season, and he ranked No. 7 overall in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) while playing among Brooklyn's top plus-minus performers. He was a strong candidate to make his second career All-Star Game appearance, and the Nets really have no player or players to replace him, and their massive payroll will make it extraordinarily difficult to find a quality stand-in via trade.

Brooklyn is 9-17 on the season: 7-10 when Lopez plays and 2-7 without him. First-year coach Jason Kidd has no other true centers on his roster, and he will need to fill the hole by playing Kevin Garnett at center and relying even more heavily on Andray Blatche.

Lopez is currently in the second year of a four-year, $60.8 million contract. He will make $14.7 million this season, $15.7 million next season and $16.7 million in 2015-16.

Video via YouTube user Steven Waldman

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