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AFTER LOPEZ, NETS HAVE 'BIG' ISSUES The Nets hope their big men aren't the big problem.

"We're better defensively, we have a good attitude, we're going to play real hard," team president Rod Thorn said. "I think it will come down to our bigs as a group. Obviously, Brook is going to be good. But our bigs as a group, how are they going to play?"

In his second season, Brook Lopez already is among the East's top centers. With the Nets playing Boston tonight in the first-ever NBA game at Prudential Center in Newark (7:00, YES), Lopez is the team's leading scorer in an 0-3 postseason with 19.3 points per game. That includes 21 in a 100-93 loss to the Celts in Boston Sunday. At times, Lopez has been dominant.

"We know that he's capable of doing that," forward Eduardo Najera said. "We saw that last year."

But after Lopez, there are a number of question marks.

"As a group, our strength has to be in numbers," said coach Lawrence Frank, who may mix and match more than ever with his fours and fives to utilize some diverse skills. "From the beginning I said this isn't a team of hierarchy. Ultimately, everyone will get a shot at one point. But there may be certain nights it's based on personnel, others based on, frankly, how you're playing."

The Nets have veteran Tony Battie, who is fighting through an aching knee to be ready for the season. Josh Boone, who began last season as the starting center, is seeing backup time at the four and five, along with enigmatic shot-blocker Sean Williams. Each guy brings something different, but their collective contribution is what matters.

Power forward Yi Jianlian remains the biggest X factor. He had 20 points and eight rebounds Sunday in his best preseason effort. In reserve, the Nets are starting to see Najera step into the role they thought he would play last season.

"If Eddie stays healthy, he's really going to help," Frank said. "He's a one-man frenzy out there. He plays with a lot of energy."

Najera was limited to 27 games last season because of injuries. After an early bout with a balky back, he has brought energy, effort - and 3-point shooting.

"With these old legs, what else can I do? Can't dunk, that's for sure," he joked. "When my conditioning gets better, I should be fine."


Devin Harris (ankle), who sat Sunday, expected to play tonight. It would be the first time in four games Nets have all five projected starters available. . . . Courtney Lee (right ankle, left foot) made his Nets debut Sunday after sitting out the first three games.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 14, 2009


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