A lot on the line as Brooklyn Nets play Los Angeles Lakers

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

It's on national TV (NBA TV). There's already bad blood between former friends. And it's in L.A. Want more? A win by the Nets and a loss by the Knicks would put Brooklyn in a first place tie by day's end. Yeah, it's early but as Brook Lopez says, it's fun again.

You want another reason that Tuesday night's game is big for the Nets? How about this: if the Hornets can beat the Knicks in New Orleans earlier in the evening, then the Nets would vault into a virtual tie for the Eastern Conference lead with a win over the Lakers.

As the Nets wake up in their Los Angeles hotel Tuesday, they'll read that they're second in the East, a game behind the Knicks and a half game ahead of the Heat. Yeah, it's early and the Lakers will be a tough challenge at home, but it's still a measure of the team's success so far.

"That’s what we wanted," Avery Johnson said Monday afternoon. "We wanted the big stage and everything that goes with it. I’m glad there’s a lot of hype about the game, whether it’s about two teams, whether even individual matchups ... I like it."

As noted Monday, the game got a little more hype when Dwight Howard said 1) he would knock Brook Lopez in the chest and 2) he doesn't care if Deron Williams no longer loves him. (A lot of people don't, Dwight, deal with it.)

The Nets are healthy again. Gerald Wallace says other than some morning stiffness in his ankle, he's fine. It's hard to recall the last time the Nets had a full complement of healthy players for two straight games. The Lakers are hurting at the point. Steve Nash and Steve Blake are out, leaving Darius Morris the possible starter. The game is on both YES and NBA TV as well as both WFAN and Spanish language WADO. It's a 10:30 p.m. start.

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