The Nets' season shows a record more than 30 games under .500, one that's 13 games away from the final playoff spot. The injury list is laughably long and has caused 23 different starting lineups. So as the Nets limp into Chicago tonight for mercifully the last game of a fourth-straight non-playoff campaign, coach Avery Johnson accentuates the positives.

Johnson clicked off the breakout year by Kris Humphries; the stunning acquisition of Deron Williams (whose permanent address becomes the next big deal for the Nets); and the overall improvement of Anthony Morrow. But the first point that Johnson touched on was "Brook, the way he's played the second half of the season."

That would be Brook Lopez, and coach and player know the room for more improvement is massive.

Lopez said he realizes the work starts as soon as the season ends.

What areas is he going to address?

"Everything," Lopez said. "I always go into the off-season trying to work on everything. By no means am I a perfect player in any area. There's loads of areas where I'm just very poor at. I'll be working on everything."

Start with defense and rebounding -- Lopez has had 13 games of three or fewer rebounds, unconscionable for a 7-footer.

"We know he has a ways to go defensively, in terms of defending the paint, getting over in help-side defense quickly, rebounding the basketball," said Johnson, who has been Lopez's harshest critic but also one of his biggest boosters seeing a "maturity" in the just-turned-23 center. "In the fourth quarter, he has a certain look on his face and in his demeanor, in the way he communicates, even his body language."

Lopez's best communication lately has been with the basket. He has four of his 10 30-point games on the season in his last five outings, averaging 32.4 points, shooting nearly 60 percent (62-of-104, .596) in that span.