Starting Five: Lean on Brook

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
8:00
AM ET
The Brooklyn Nets could be without Paul Pierce for a month.

That should mean more Brook Lopez for the Nets. Through the Nets' rough start to this season, Lopez has been the one constant source of offense when he has been healthy. Lopez is averaging 20 points and 55.6 percent shooting so far this season.

After missing seven straight games with an ankle injury, Lopez returned last Friday and had 16 points in 21 minutes against Houston before lifting the Nets to a win in Memphis with 20 points and nine rebounds last Saturday.

With Pierce out, the Nets will need to lean on Lopez and Joe Johnson even more until Deron Williams can return from a sprained left ankle.

"It’s been great," Nets coach Jason Kidd said of Lopez's play this season. "You saw that in Memphis, going down the stretch, being able to play inside and him being able to deliver by scoring but also finding the open guy. The one thing that he probably can do a little bit better [this season] is make the free throws."

Even with all the star power on the roster, the Nets are increasingly becoming Lopez's team. Some of that has to do with Williams' injuries this season. But much of it has to do with his talent and ability to be a force inside. He's a major advantage for the Nets over many teams, and I suspect you'll see that play out on Thursday against the Tyson Chandler-less Knicks.

Up now: Pierce fractures his hand and is out for possibly a month.

What Pierce's injury might mean for the Nets over the next two to four weeks.

Several Nets are out on Tuesday, including D-Will.

The Nets play the Knicks on Thursday and you better believe the Nets don't want to be the ones the Knicks snap their losing streak against. Still, the Knicks probably need the win more because Jim Dolan could lose his mind if the Knicks lose their 10th-straight game in Brooklyn.

Net fact: Home sweet home. After playing 11 of the first 17 games on the road, the Nets will see plenty of Barclays Center in December. Tonight is the first of nine home games in 12 games this month for the Nets. The Nets will play the Nuggets and Knicks at home this week. They are the last team in the NBA to play two straight home games this season.

What's next: The Nets host the Nuggets today at home at 7:30 p.m.

Net question(s): How good do you think Lopez can be this season? And is this his team?
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Joe Johnson
PTS AST STL MIN
16.5 3.8 0.9 35.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 7.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.6
StealsJ. Jack 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.5