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Nets continue road trip vs Nuggets

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"Sigh..."
"Sigh..."
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

That went a little better. The Nets opened the second half of the season by snapping their three game losing streak with a 114-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets are currently one half game behind the Miami Heat for the seventh position in the Eastern Conference and one half game ahead of the Detroit Pistons for eighth in the East.

Waiting for them boys from Brooklyn will be the Denver Nuggets. It's been another disappointing season for the Nuggets as they find themselves out of the playoff chase once again. This is the second night of a back-to-back. They lost to Oklahoma City on Sunday evening.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on the television and WFAN 101.9 on the radio. Different time zone so this game will get rolling around 8:30 PM eastern.

Injuries

If this were Game Seven of the NBA Finals, Jarrett Jack would be playing. Since it ain't, we won't be seeing Jack tonight. He hopes to play on Wednesday.  And after falling on Brook Lopez's foot, Bojan Bogdanovic sprained his ankle and is doubtful.  Lopez's reconstructed foot survived.

Nothing here for Denver.

The game

What's life like for these clubs? Let's get into it:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Denver

Record

22-31 20-35

Pace

94.25 98.39

Offensive Efficiency

100.3 101

Defensive Efficiency

104.7 105.1

Turnover Rate

15.1 14.1

Assist Rate

16.4 16.2

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.3 26.2

Rebounding Rate

48.7 49.9

Free Throw Rate

27 28.6

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 47.4

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 49.8

Brooklyn won the first meeting back in December.

The new guy had a nice debut. Thaddeus Young scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 12 minutes of action on Friday. As he gets more reps with the team, he figures to get the starting power forward position and with the Nets now a "small team," he fits into that framework. Like everyone in the NBA, the Nets could use another good big man. They are rumored to have some level of interest in free agent big Thomas Robinson, but nothing solid has developed as of yet.

The Nuggets are looking a bit different from the last time Brooklyn saw them. Javale McGee is no longer with the team as he got traded to Philadelphia. Aaron Afflalo got traded again, this time to the Portland Trailblazers for Will Barton and some future draft picks. Also, Danilo Gallinari is back on a full time basis. He's been dealing with knee injuries for the past couple of years but is back now. As one would expect, it's taken Gallo some time to get back to the form he was at prior to the injury. He's shooting career lows overall and from the three point line and will have a tough go of it with Joe Johnson. The rest did Johnson well and he scored a game high 23 points and made five three pointers in Los Angeles. Assuming Brook Lopez comes off the bench again, the offense will go through Johnson early. If this game is close late, these two will be the feature players for their respective clubs.

Kenneth Faried hasn't really played as well as expected. His shooting percentages have dipped for the third consecutive season even though he is shooting closer to the basket than he did last year. His Team USA teammate Mason Plumlee didn't play much in LA, but should get some more run. Despite their flaws, the Nuggets are still a young, athletic team and those kinds of teams tend to give the Nets trouble.

If last game was any indication, Brian Shaw might give the young players an extended run should this game get out of hand. The Nuggets are in a position of evaluating the roster and seeing who best fits into their future plans. This means that guys like Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne will get a lot of opportunities to display their skills.

Player to watch: Ty Lawson

This is Lawson's sixth year in the league, and he's solidly in the second tier of point guards in the Association. He's cut down on his three pointers compared to previous seasons, but is shooting a more than acceptable 36 percent from downtown. Lawson can break down a defense and finish well at the rim, but the majority of his shot attempts have come from 16 feet and out. Friend of the site Nate Timmons wrote about Lawson within the context of the Nuggets' deadline day and said:

Beyond the Afflalo and McGee departures, the most puzzling move of the day was the one that didn't happen: moving starting point guard Ty Lawson somewhere. Anywhere. As Uncle Marty - aka "The Nuggets Curmudgeon" - pointed out to me today when finding out that Lawson was staying put: "Ty Lawson will never be more valuable than he was this morning." If you can look beyond the boozing and suspect Instagram'ing, Lawson is still a starting NBA point guard who's good for 17 ppg and 10 apg nightly - nothing to sneer at. My gut feel on why Lawson is still a Nugget tonight is that with the point guard position being as deep today as it has ever been in NBA history, the market for Lawson (who probably falls outside of the league's top-15 point guards despite that nightly 17/10) was tepid at best and Connelly wasn't going to get duped into a bad trade. But I'd be surprised if Lawson is a Nugget in 2015-16.

For now at least, Deron Williams is back in the starting lineup. Friday was his first start since December 19th in Cleveland and he had one of his best games of the year, scoring 12 points and handing out a season high 15 assists. Williams isn't the scoring option he used to be, but at least he can orchestrate the offense. Depending on how he does against Lawson, Williams might be able to regain his starting spot. When Deron is playing well, he adds another dimension to the Nets offense that Jack doesn't necessarily provide.

Almost forgot. Today's the fourth anniversary of the trade that brought Williams from Utah to the Nets. Funny how time flies.

From the Vault

Former Net and Nugget center Dikembe Mutombo is a finalist for the basketball Hall of Fame this year. Head on back to 1993 and see him go to work against the Chicago Bulls.

More reading: Denver Stiffs