The Brooklyn Nets could be getting the help they need to break a four-game slide in time for another visit by the New York Knicks.
Brook Lopez turned in a big game the first time these Atlantic Division rivals met and could be back for Tuesday night's matchup.
Brooklyn (11-8) won 96-89 in overtime over New York (15-5) at home on Nov. 26. The game was originally scheduled as the Nets' opener in their new home before it was postponed by Superstorm Sandy. Lopez starred with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
The Nets big man has missed the last five games with a mild foot sprain. The lack of his defensive presence has been evident with opponents shooting 52.1 percent against the Nets during their skid.
Lopez practiced Monday, and it will be a game-time decision if he plays.
"I'm feeling good," Lopez said. "It was great to go through an entire practice. I wasn't sure I'd be able to - not necessarily because of whatever happened with my foot, but just my conditioning."
Coach Avery Johnson, however, didn't sound convinced that Lopez will be ready.
"We can't treat Brook like he is a savior, because right now the chances of him playing tomorrow are not very high," Johnson said. "So that's why the rest of the guys that are going to be in uniform for sure we got to play much better."
The first time these teams met, Nets point guard Deron Williams described it as a "playoff-type atmosphere."
Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony had 35 points and 13 boards for New York, and he'll likely hear some MVP chants from Knicks fans in his second game in the borough.
Anthony heard those chants when he scored 34 points against his former team Sunday in a 112-106 home victory over Denver. He was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a cut on the middle finger of his left hand that required stitches.
"You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes, you try not to think about it," Anthony said.
Anthony is averaging 30.1 points over his last eight games. He had two key baskets in the final 2:08 on Sunday.
"Again 'Melo is playing at such a high level, there is no question he's the MVP, one of the MVP candidates in the league this early season," coach Mike Woodson said. "He's been great for us and his teammates, they rely on him."
The Knicks could present a different challenge since veteran guard Jason Kidd missed the first matchup with lower back spasms. Kidd has started the last three games and finished with 17 points and seven assists against the Nuggets.
There was speculation in the offseason that Kidd, a former Net, would join Brooklyn to back up Williams.
Williams has shouldered the scoring load with an average of 24.7 points over the last three games. The guard had 18 and eight assists in Sunday's 97-88 home loss to Milwaukee.
He's looking forward to this visit by the Knicks, winners of six of seven since their first trip to Brooklyn.
"It would be a good win for us," Williams said. "They're playing good basketball right now and we need a win in the worst way."
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