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Friday, December 13, 2013
W2W4: Nets at Pistons

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets will be seeking their season-high fourth straight victory when they face the Detroit Pistons Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

WILL BROOK-LYN BE IN? Brook Lopez re-sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of Thursday night’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Lopez said he would travel with the team to Detroit, but was unsure if he’d play. Trainer Tim Walsh will make that determination. Lopez had already missed seven games earlier this season due to the same injury. Our guess: it would be a surprise if Lopez plays.

HEAD OF THE SNAKE: Deron Williams has averaged 20 points on 56 percent shooting in two games since returning to the lineup. The Nets are clearly a different team -- or, rather, a much better team -- with him on the court.

NEW SIXTH MAN? Paul Pierce came off the bench in consecutive games for the first time in his 16-year career Thursday night. And once again, he did a great job anchoring the second unit, stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Our guess: Nets coach Jason Kidd sticks with Pierce off the pine and doesn’t mess with his starting five.

LOT OF POSITIVES: During their three-game winning streak, the Nets (8-14) are giving up just 40.8 percent shooting and have outscored their opponents 82-62 in the third quarter. Truly incredible stuff given all their struggles on the defensive end and in third quarters.

DE-TROIT BASKETBALL! The Pistons (10-13) have lost three straight games and have given up 114 points per game over that span. All five Detroit starters average in double digits scoring, led by Brandon Jennings. Big man Andre Drummond has been impressive, putting up 13.1 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a night. The Nets are going to have to defend the post and get after it on the glass if they’re going to come away with a road victory in this one.