W2W4: Nets at Rockets

The Brooklyn Nets are in Houston to take on the Rockets Friday night at Toyota Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

LIN OUT: “Linsanity” began against the Nets at the Garden Feb. 4, 2012. But ex-New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin will not play Friday night due to a right knee sprain, which will keep him out for the next two weeks. It’s certainly a break for Brooklyn, given that Lin is averaging 15.3 points on 50.3 percent shooting. James Harden, who has missed the last three games for the Rockets, is a game-time decision. Harden averages a team-high 24.2 points per game.

RETURN OF BROOK? Brook Lopez, who has missed the last seven games due to a sprained left ankle, is also a game-time decision. The Nets could sure use him back. And hey, who doesn’t love a good Lopez-Dwight Howard matchup given the two were nearly traded for each other. Meanwhile, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry are all out as usual for the Nets.

DOMINATION: The Rockets (11-5) have beaten the Nets (4-11) 13 consecutive times. Houston has won three straight games, while Brooklyn is coming off a tough loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets have lost six of seven overall. The Rockets are second in terms of offensive efficiency and 11th in terms of defensive efficiency. Again, this is the type of team that can give Brooklyn trouble because it likes to play at a fast pace. After getting off to a slow start, Houston has turned the corner and looks as though its going to be a force to be reckoned with in the dangerous Western Conference.

TAKING A SPILL: This will be Nets coach Jason Kidd’s first game since he was fined $50,000 by the NBA for “Cupgate.” Wonder if Kidd will get a razzing from the crowd over his antics? Probably. He’ll probably be good-natured about it. Give Kidd credit for trying to give his team an edge, although he did break the rules to do it, and was penalized accordingly. Many fans would like Kidd to be fired. Ownership still supports him, though. Seems like any coach willing to go to that length to win is worth having around.