The Brooklyn Nets are playing well, but they'll have to keep that up without Brook Lopez for at least the next two games.
One of those contests includes a visit to the reigning NBA champion.
Before that, the Nets look to overcome Lopez's absence and conclude November with a third victory over the sputtering Orlando Magic, and match their longest winning streak of the season.
Brooklyn (10-4) has won nine of 11 and is tied with New York for first in the Atlantic Division, but the Nets will try to continue that impressive start to 2012-13 without Lopez, the team leader with 18.5 points per game.
The center has a mild sprain of his right foot that will force him to miss the next two games, and he'll be considered day-to-day after that.
This isn't anything new for the Nets - Lopez was limited to five games last season due to a broken foot and another ankle injury. However, this time they feel they're deep enough to cover for Lopez.
"I think we've got a bench. I think Andray Blatche can step in and play, and Reggie Evans," general manager Billy King said. "I think we can sustain much better than we have in the past when an injury happens."
Blatche is averaging 9.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, and the Nets will likely need increased production as they conclude this three-game trip at Miami on Saturday.
Blatche proved he's capable of that Wednesday, totaling 17 points and 13 boards while Lopez got hurt driving to the basket during a 95-83 win at Boston. The victory, though, was marred by a shoving match that spilled into the seats, pitting Brooklyn's Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace versus Rajon Rondo of the Celtics.
All three were ejected for the spat that started after Rondo retaliated following a hard foul by Humphries on Kevin Garnett.
Humphries avoided any discipline, while Wallace was fined $35,000 and Rondo suspended two games.
The Nets will try to move on from the incident and match their season-high five-game winning streak from last week. That stretch started with a pair of wins over Orlando (5-9).
They crushed the Magic 107-68 on the road Nov. 9 before completing a sweep of the home-and-home set two days later with an 82-74 victory. Blatche had 15 points in the first meeting before going 1 for 6 from the floor to finish with two in the next one.
Deron Williams is looking to regroup from perhaps his worst performance of the season. The All-Star guard was held to a season-low eight points Wednesday, making just 3 of 12 field goals to go with his seven assists.
Williams was limited to 12 points and four assists at Orlando earlier this month, but followed that up with 17 points and seven assists in the home victory.
The Magic are trying to finish this season-high five-game homestand above .500 after falling 110-89 to San Antonio on Wednesday. They missed 13 of 15 shots from beyond the arc after making 11 in each of the previous two games.
"I don't know if it takes a perfect effort," guard Jameer Nelson said. "We've got to put forth more of an effort as a team and eliminate some of the mistakes we had out there and some of that uncertainty, and be more decisive offensively."
Nelson is averaging 18.7 points over three games, but missed both meetings with the Nets due to strained right hamstring.
Arron Afflalo had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the most recent matchup, and the swingman leads the Magic with 15.4 points per game.
The Associated Press News Service
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