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Another chance for the Brooklyn Nets to restore faith


After a stirring win over the Pacers, the Nets return home to Brooklyn for a battle with the Nuggets, who are (surprise!) the hottest team in the NBA. Before Tuesday's loss to the Raptors on a Rudy Gay jumper, they were 9-1 over the last 10. They're also 15-4 over the last month and for the season are first in rebounding, second in assists and third in scoring in the NBA.

They're a team without a superstar, with only Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala the closest to that level. They do have eight players averaging more than eight points a game and six averaging 10 or more. Only one of their key players, Wilson Chandler, has missed a substantial number of games and he's back. Other than Chandler, the rest of the Nuggets rotation has missed a total of eight games, although Gallinari and Iguodala sat out vs. Toronto and are fully rested for the Brooklyn end of their back-to-back.

It's mostly about the offense, but not only offense. Over the last 10 games before Tuesday, they're first in scoring (114 points per game) and in the top five of overall shooting percentage, three point shooting percentage and assists. They're also first in rebounding and steals and second in blocks. Individually, Gallinari is on fire, hitting 45.3 percent of his three's during the winning streak. Iguodala is shooting 51.4 percent over that stretch and while his scoring is down this season, his rebounds, assists and defense haven't changed since he was freed from Philadelphia. And they're coached by George Karl.

For the Nets, it will be another night without Deron Williams, the last before the All-Star Break. Who'll start for him? Despite Tyshawn Taylor's terrific performance off the bench, it's still likely to be C.J. Watson. "We want C.J. to be more aggressive offensively, even more so now, because we think one of his strengths is that he is a very good shooter, particularly when people go underneath him on pick-and-rolls," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It's hard when you don't get a lot of minutes."

Something else to look for: Gerald Wallace's leadership role. In addition to his on-court toughness vs. Indiana, Nets brass cited Crash's leadership.