Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets @ Sacramento Kings

After a 1-1 start to their Western Conference road trip, the Nets are back in action tonight against the Sacramento Kings. The first Western swing of the season got off to a strong start with a nice effort against the Clips, and despite losing to the Jazz two nights later, they competed and had a chance in the 4th quarter. Tonight is certainly a winnable game against the Kings, and is doubly important since the Nets have a back-to-back tomorrow in Denver.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

Brook Lopez From the Field. After struggling big-time shooting the ball for about a week, Brook Lopez has snapped out of his funk and put together a very solid last three games. He has shot over 50% in two of those three games and in the other (Wednesday night at Utah) he was 8 of 17 from the floor, and added 8 rebounds to go with his 17 points. He had a very strong game against the Kings in the first week of the season (29 points on 8 of 16 shooting) and despite the presence of shot blocker Samuel Dalembert in the middle, Brook should be prime for another solid performance tonight.

Matching Good Defense with Enough Offense. Take away 3 of the Nets losses this season to Miami and Orlando. In their 4 other losses, they have given up less than 100 points and in 3 of those 4 losses they gave up an average of just 89.6 points per game. Basically I’m saying that their defense has been solid enough that their record should be better. Scoring draughts and an inconsistent bench have been a few of their issues on offense. They also need to take better shots in crunch time and not settle for so many three pointers. The Kings are not what you would call a dominating defense so they should be able to hit the 100-point mark tonight, or at the very least score enough points to win.

Favors vs. Cousins Round 2. Before the first Nets-Kings matchup, there was a great deal of talk about the matchup of the two lottery picks, the Nets’ Derrick Favors and the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins. The Kentucky product did his fair share of trash talking before the game, but it was Favors who outplayed Cousins. They had similar numbers (10 points and 7 rebounds vs. 12 points and 4 boards) but Favors shot a much better percentage from the field and most importantly, his team got the W. The sudden emergence of Kris Humphries has affected the rook’s minutes a bit, but he should still see plenty of action tonight against the Kings’ Cousins.

For more coverage of the Sacramento Kings, check out ESPN’s TrueHoop affiliate CowbellKingdom.