After spending much of January as one of the NBA's hottest teams, the Brooklyn Nets have dropped three straight games. But while two of those defeats came to the league's top teams, a home tilt with the struggling Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night should give them a good chance to bounce back.
Brooklyn (20-25) won 10 of its first 11 games last month, including victories over Oklahoma City, Golden State and Miami. Then the Nets suffered a 104-103 setback in Toronto last Monday on a last-second jumper before a 120-95 blowout loss to the league-best Thunder four days later.
Brooklyn followed that with a 97-96 loss at Indiana on Saturday despite tallying 36 points off 24 turnovers and getting a season-high 24 points from Shaun Livingston.
"We play 82 games through the season and you're going to have your ups and downs, and hopefully you're ready come playoff time," coach Jason Kidd said.
Deron Williams, who hit a 3-pointer with less than a second left to narrow the final margin, was just 3 for 12 with 13 points in his first start since Jan. 4. He had come off the bench in his previous six games after missing five with an ankle injury.
Joe Johnson is also in a bit of a lull, averaging 10.2 points while going 7 of 22 from 3-point range over his last six games. He had been averaging 16.4 points on the season while knocking down 39.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Johnson scored a season-high 37 and went 10 of 14 from deep in a 130-94 home win over Philadelphia on Dec. 16. Brooklyn hit 60.3 percent of its field goals for its best shooting performance in nearly five years and was 21 of 35 from 3-point range.
Michael Carter-Williams sat out due to a skin infection but had 15 points and 10 assists in a 121-120 overtime win in Philadelphia four days later. Evan Turner scored 29 points, including the winning basket on a driving layup as time expired.
Johnson was absent due to personal reasons.
Carter-Williams was sidelined again for Philadelphia's 113-96 loss in Detroit on Saturday due to a sore right shoulder, though he's listed as a starter for Monday's contest. The 76ers are 1-11 without Carter-Williams this season.
"We decided to give him some time off and he needed it," coach Brett Brown said. "Day to day is a fair assessment."
Philadelphia has dropped 12 of its last 15 while averaging only 96.1 points. The 76ers averaged 103.3 in their first 33 games.
They gave up a 58-44 rebounding advantage and were dominated by the Detroit frontline duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, who combined for 43 points on 18-of-21 shooting and 26 rebounds.
The Nets may not be able to exploit that weakness inside as heavily if Andray Blatche (hip) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf) can't play. Both sat out as Brooklyn was outrebounded 46-27 by the Pacers. Kirilenko also didn't play versus Oklahoma City.
The Nets have won all three meetings in Brooklyn after dropping the previous six matchups in New Jersey.