Bucks-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

The New Jersey Nets are back in the win column following an impressive victory.

Having center Brook Lopez back in the starting lineup should only help the Nets as they try to work their way out of the Atlantic Division cellar.

Lopez will make his season debut Sunday night when host New Jersey tries to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nets (9-23) raced to a 22-3 lead and stopped a season-high eight-game skid on Saturday with a 97-85 win at Chicago.

Deron Williams scored 29 points for the second straight game and Kris Humphries added 24 and 18 rebounds as New Jersey opened its second set of back-to-back-to-back games this season.

"I'm just happy the streak is over,'' Williams said.

The Nets, who visit the New York Knicks on Monday, will be happy to have Lopez back in the starting five on Sunday as they try to end a five-game home skid.

New Jersey is tied with Toronto at the bottom of the division standings.

Lopez, the team leader with 20.4 points per game last season, suffered a broken right foot during the preseason. While that injury potentially cost the Nets a chance to trade for Orlando star center Dwight Howard, New Jersey has been eagerly awaiting Lopez's return.

The team is among the worst in the NBA with 39.2 rebounds per game.

Lopez led the Nets with 18.7 points as they dropped all three to Milwaukee last season. He finished with five points in a 115-92 loss in the Bucks' lone visit on Jan. 8.

Milwaukee (12-18) has won four in a row in New Jersey by an average of 23.5 points

The Bucks, though, make the first of two visits to the Garden State in 2011-12 on the heels of their fourth consecutive loss, 94-85 at Orlando on Friday.

"We were still competing at the end, we just didn't make wise plays,'' coach Scott Skiles said after his team was outscored 22-11 in the final quarter. "You can't just come down the floor and turn it over. We just had a bunch of plays that were difficult to overcome.''

The Bucks have had a hard time overcoming leading scorer Brandon Jennings' shooting woes. The third-year point guard is scoring 12.1 points per game - 6.1 less than his season average - on 29.8 percent shooting in the last eight. Milwaukee has won just twice during that stretch.

"I felt like I let my teammates down tonight," Jennings said after missing 16 of 20 shots and finishing with 14 points on Friday. "I was not able to contribute down the stretch."

Jennings scored 16 points with 10 assists the last time these teams met, a Bucks 110-95 victory on March 18. He missed last season's game in New Jersey with a broken foot.

The Bucks could be without forward Drew Gooden for a second straight contest due to a sprained right wrist and sore knee.

If he can't go, rookie Jon Leuer could be in for a long night against Lopez and Humphries, who is averaging 10.5 rebounds and has scored 20 or more points in two straight games for the first time in his career.

Bucks swingman Carlos Delfino hit a career-best eight 3s and finished with a team-high 26 points the last time these teams met.

The Nets' last victory in this series was 99-95 in Milwaukee on March 3, 2009.

What to Read Next