BROOK-LYN: In what came as a surprise to many, Brook Lopez did not make the All-Star team, as announced on Thursday. Still, Lopez has been playing extremely well; he leads all centers in scoring (18.6 ppg). Friday night’s matchup with Memphis’ physical front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph is going to be a tough one for Lopez. Let’s see how he responds.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD: During Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak, it has given up just 85.7 points per game. However, the Nets have averaged 17.3 turnovers and shot 42.2 percent. While the Grizzlies (27-14) aren’t a prolific scoring team, they are solid on the defensive end (89.5 ppg allowed this season). Brooklyn’s offense was stagnant at times in Minnesota on Wednesday. As a result, the Nets barely got past a Timberwolves squad that dressed just 10 healthy players.
A WINNING COMBINATION: The Nets are 9-1 when they start Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans and Lopez. They are 12-2 since P.J. Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson on an interim basis. The third-seeded Nets are just a game behind the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings, and find themselves just 2 1/2 games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat.