The New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons hit the hardwood on Friday night at the Prudential Center. The Nets (11-31) will be looking to win their second straight after losing six in a row. Here's what we'll be watching for:
Why were the Nets able to upset the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night? Well, as their head coach, Avery Johnson, said, his players were playing "free." Owner Mikhail Prohkorov dropped a bombshell in his press conference before Wednesday's game, announcing that the Nets would no longer be pursuing Carmelo Anthony. And with the trade rumors all but dead, seven players registered in double figures in scoring, the team shot 49.3 percent, went 8-for-16 from 3-point range and ended up scoring 103 points. That output was almost 11 more than its season average of 92.6, which ranks 29th in the NBA. Rookie Derrick Favors, projected to be the centerpiece in the multi-player trade that would've brought Anthony to New Jersey, played one of his best games of the season, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots in 27 minutes. The 19-year-old was definitely playing worry-free basketball. We'll see if it continues.
Shooting guard Anthony Morrow, who missed the last 17 games with a hamstring injury, will come off the bench Friday night, according to Johnson. He is expected to play about 15 minutes. At the time of his injury, Morrow ranked third on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg) and was the Nets' leader in 3-point accuracy (.411 percent). Sasha Vujacic has really helped New Jersey's perimeter game since being acquired for the Los Angeles Lakers, but one guy just isn't enough. Morrow's return gives the Nets another guy that is almost automatic when left open from beyond the arc.
Over his last four games, 22-year-old center Brook Lopez has been a force on the offensive end, averaging 26.8 points. But during that span, he's grabbed just 20 rebounds, watching his average plummet to a paltry 5.9 boards. Johnson said after Wednesday's game that he hopes Lopez can get 8.9 rebounds per game the rest of the way. Although, given how bad of a rebounder he's been this season, that seems unreasonable -- if not impossible. If he was going to grab eight or nine boards, it would be against a Pistons' team that second-to-last in the league in that category (38.3 rebounds per game).