Jeremy Lin.This article has nothing to do with Jeremy Lin, but we had to get your attention and figured starting with “The New Jersey Nets” wasn’t going to do it. So …Jeremy Lin did not practice with the Nets yesterday, but Brook Lopez did. And that is significant for the Nets, who may get their most talented big man back sometime during the grueling upcoming stretch of six games in eight nights, a run that begins tonight against Memphis in Newark. Coach Avery Johnson insisted he is “not ruling anything out,” including Lopez returning before the All-Star Game. So with Dwight Howard’s open lovefest the last two days with the Magic and city of Orlando — something that has not deterred the “cautiously optimistic” feel within the Nets’ organization about eventually landing him — Nets supporters needed something positive. Lopez provided just that.“Definitely a big benchmark … continuing to make progress in practice to the point where [team brass] and some of the other guys think I am ready to play in a game,” said Lopez, who is indicating he could be back pre-All-Star break.“If it were up to me I probably would have come back two weeks ago and it would have been too early,” joked Lopez, who broke his foot in the final preseason game and has not played yet, although he senses the end to his frustration may be close. “This practice has been a huge hurdle, a huge benchmark.”Lopez, up 10 pounds of muscle to 275, was not the only one encouraged.“He looked real, real good. His timing wasn’t there but he showed great flashes,” said DeShawn Stevenson (sore knee), who has been upgraded to questionable and feels he will play. “Coach ran a couple plays for him. It looked good for us to finally throw the ball in the post to a guy that can make moves, no disrespect to nobody on this team. But he’s so talented it was good to see him on the court.”Maybe the Nets will advance from being so jump-shot oriented.“It was good to see him out there. We need him on the real court, though,” Deron Williams said. “He looked goodSeeing his explosiveness, i. It definitely is encouraging, because we need him in the worst way. It changes the dynamic of this team, gives us the inside presence, something that we haven’t had through 30 games.”Despite the upbeat feel, n, something they simply have not been able to produce in their 8-21 campaign.ot all was rosy.“Every single day is a different challenge,” Johnson admitted.Shawne Williams (mild sprain left shoulder, MRI negative) is questionable for tonight. Mehmet Okur (back) remains out and Johnson admitted his recovery is taking longer than anticipated. Four days after general manager Billy King said no one would be waived to create a roster spot, Keith Bogans (fractured ankle torn deltoid ligament) was waived to create a roster spot.“We just need bodies,” Johnson said.One new body is D-League call-up Andre Emmett (23.7 points for Reno).“I got here and they said, ‘Welcome and we’re throwing you right in the fire.’ I’m trying to pick up everything as fast as I can and be an asset,” said Emmett.****Johnson tonight figures to drop from the record books in one category — he is tied with Ben Wallace for most games played by an undrafted player since the NBA-ABA merger, 1,054.