FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE?
As several players on the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons remain hostages, awaiting to know their fates, Mikhail Prokhorov has returned to America -- and like only James Bond could -- he’s hoping he can end all the Melo Drama and save his reputation in the process. Rumors have been swirling that Prokhorov is to meet with Carmelo Anthony at some point this week to try to convince him to sign an extension with New Jersey and play for the Nets. The Nuggets have OK’d the meeting -- as has the league. Will the two parties meet and come to an agreement? Is Melo amenable to playing with the Nets? These are questions that still have to be answered. Prokhorov has made himself available to the media Wednesday night. Whether or not he’ll disclose any information that we don’t already know, remains to be seen.
STOP THE BLEEDING
The Nets have lost six straight and 11 of 12. They lost all four games on their West Coast road trip, allowing 105.75 points per game in the process. That can’t happen against a balanced Utah Jazz team that can score in bunches. Led by all-world point guard Deron Williams and inside presence Al Jefferson, the Jazz have averaged 101 points per game this season. They made 14 3-pointers in their last game, a 108-101 loss at Washington. Defense hasn’t been the Nets’ calling card. Expect Utah to space the floor and allow Williams room to dribble-drive -- much like Devin Harris -- and either get to the rim or find open shooters for perimeter pull-ups. The Jazz shoot it at nearly 47 percent from the field, 36 percent from beyond the arc. The Nets are going to need to clog the lane, but at the same time get out there and contest shots. Otherwise, the Jazz are going to knock them down.
Brook Lopez still isn’t rebounding (5.9 boards per game), but he is scoring. A lot. Over his last three games, Lopez has averaged 29.2 points per game on 64.2 percent shooting from the field. The 22 year old has been aggressive, scoring in a variety of ways. He’s actually been establishing deep post position -- and when defenders give him space, he’s never shy about hoisting -- and making -- 15-footers. Lopez is going to need to have another strong outing if the Nets are to come away with an upset victory in this one.