Brotherly love: Lopezes to square off sibling

Lopez siblings square off when Nets visit Hornets on Tuesday

NEW ORLEANS — Family began coming into town Sunday for the Hornets’ victory against the Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Arena.

And Mom certainly will be in attendance Tuesday night when the Hornets (20-37) host the Brooklyn Nets (33-24). Robin Lopez will be going against twin brother Brook in an NBA regular-season game for the sixth time.

“I’ve got Mom rooting for me,” said Robin Lopez, who was born one minute after Brook, “because I’m better, because I’m more lovable.”

Brook, who played on this year’s Eastern Conference All-Star team, might say he’s better, Robin said, but, “There’s no debate about who’s more lovable.”

Usually, such as when Robin was set to go against his former team, the Phoenix Suns, he dismissed it as just another game, although he spent the first four years of his career with that team after being selected in the first round of the 2008 draft.

However, after the game against the Kings, he smiled whenever Tuesday night’s game was mentioned and said it should be a lot of fun. It also should be a good styles matchup, as Robin is more defensive-minded and Brook more prolific offensively.

Robin averages 11.4 points on 55.9 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Brook averages 18.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting, 7.3 rebounds and 2.14 blocks, playing in 30.3 minutes to Robin’s 25 minutes, 31 seconds a game.

“Robin is probably not as polished as Brook offensively,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “More people would say Robin’s more defensively inclined as far as playing the game. Robin has more of a helping defensive mentality that we like.

“But Brook’s an All-Star for a reason. He can put the ball in the hole. He’s one of the few bigs who has that Tim Duncan move where they draw fouls with their wrist, forearm.”

Robin said they’ve been different as players since they were growing up.

“I was always more of the defensive player,” he said. “I would guard the better centers, and he was a more offensive center. I guess you can see how that developed.

“I guess I was always going against a good offensive player, and he was always going against a good defensive player.”

Such as with their one-on-one matchups in the driveway of the family’s Fresno, Calif., home. Their mother, Debbie Ledford, said before an earlier matchup between them that they got along 98 percent of the time, with the 2 percent they didn’t get along coming when one blocked the other’s shot.

Asked who won most of the time, Robin said, “It was usually even, maybe 50 percent plus one in my favor.

“Brook always had a little more range than I did, so he would shoot 3-pointers sometimes, and sometimes that would give him the edge.”

The battles were fierce, though, and stuff often would be broken, sometimes intentionally after a loss didn’t sit well.

TCU coach Trent Johnson, the former LSU coach who mentored the Lopez brothers at Stanford from 2006-08, has seen those battles up close.

“Physical,” Johnson said, laughing. “Very physical. You had to slow them down, which I liked.”

Johnson said he doesn’t think Brook is that much better offensively than Robin.

“I’ve had conversations with Monty about Robin,” Johnson said. “He is more of a traditional center, playing around the basket. He likes to shoot the left hook and the right hook.

“Brook can shoot from out, and he can put the ball on the floor and go left and right. And he’s on a team that features him. They’re just different.”

Off the court, Robin said, they’re similar. Their uniform numbers reflect where they were drafted in the first round: Brook wears No. 11 and Robin No. 15. They both like Disney and fine art.

“We’re both very creative people, very stubborn,” Robin said. “I think Brook is a little more aggressive, a little more outspoken, a little more vocal.”

From an appearance standpoint, Brook is slightly taller, although both are listed at 7 feet. Brook is bigger, but Robin seems to have a more athletic build.

The biggest difference is their hair. Brook’s is somewhat close cut, while Robin goes with the longer, shaggier look.

“That wasn’t a conscious thing,” Robin said. “We didn’t come together and talk about it. It’s just one day he decided to get a haircut and I didn’t.”

That it makes it easier to tell them apart, he said, “I guess it was just a genius marketing move in retrospect, I don’t know.”

The two are very close, as can be imagined, and talk often, although never about basketball. However, Robin admits to being envious about Brook being selected as an All-Star.

“I’m a little jealous,” he said. “What NBA player doesn’t what to be an All-Star? But I’m happy for him; he deserves it.”

All-Star or not, Robin’s teams have gotten the better of Brook’s in the NBA. Robin is 4-1 against Brook. They face off again March 12 in Brooklyn.