The Nets carry a four-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s marquee matchup at the Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
DWIGHTMARE: Dwight Howard recently admitted what everyone knew: he wanted to be a Net. He told the New York Times he thought it would be cool to make his own history in Brooklyn. But D12 blew his best chance at being a Net when he gave up his early termination option. The Nets tried to trade for him, but Magic GM Rob Hennigan wasn’t interested. So Howard ended up in L.A. with the Lakers. Brooklyn’s offseason overhaul was good. With Howard, it would’ve been great. In three games against the Nets last season, Howard averaged 18 points and 15.7 rebounds in 34.7 minutes. On Tuesday night, it’ll be all about trying to contain him -- and Kobe Bryant. Good luck, Brook Lopez. At least Shaq thinks you’re better.
D’ANTONI’S DEBUT: Mike D’Antoni, not exactly beloved in New York, could make his Lakers coaching debut against the Nets. That means up-tempo, high-octane offense all the time. It’s an interesting matchup, given that the Nets rank last in pace. In terms of offensive efficiency, Los Angeles is No. 5, while Brooklyn is No. 6 (as of Monday). A lot of gunners on the court. Not a lot of defense. Should be fun.
HAPPY AND HEALTHY? Gerald Wallace returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the previous six games due to a sprained left ankle. He was rusty, but that was to be expected. MarShon Brooks played his best game of the season Sunday, and it looks like his own sprained left ankle injury that kept him out of three games is behind him. Deron Williams is banged up, but the Nets say he’ll play Tuesday night. So the Nets are basically as close to full strength as they have been all season. Now it’s just a matter of staying that way.
JOE’S WOES: Joe Johnson is currently shooting just 36 percent from the field -- averaging around five makes for every 14 shots he takes per game. Regardless of how much he’s making -- and he’s making a lot, $19.75 million to be exact -- that’s not going to cut it.
CRAZY EIGHTS: The Nets (6-2) have lost eight straight to the Lakers dating back to Feb. 5, 2008. The last time they were five games over .500 was Dec. 30, 2005, eight seasons ago.