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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

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'Dray day

Andray Blatche puts up a shot during a

Andray Blatche puts up a shot during a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 20, 2014) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Andray Blatche is sure softening the blow of losing Brook Lopez for the season.

In the eight games since returning from a four-game absence for personal reasons, Blatche is averaging 12.9 points and  4.9 rebounds in 19.9 minutes. He’s as self-assured as ever, and it’s written all over his face as he motors downcourt with both arms spread back following a made bucket.

That monstrous, posterizing dunk over Kyle O’Quinn in the Nets’ win against the Magic on Tuesday was as nasty a move as he’s made in his season-plus in Brooklyn.

“Just being aggressive,” Blatche said. “Being aggressive, feeling real confident and just taking the shots when it comes.”

Deron Williams has noticed a difference in Blatche of late.

“He’s focused,” Williams said. “He realizes how much we need him on both ends of the floor. Everybody looks at his offense and what he’s doing on offense, when he’s doing his stepbacks and all that. But I look at what he’s doing on defense. He’s been doing a great job on the ball defensively, helping the rest of his teammates out and help side. That’s what I look at as a positive for him."

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