The sight of their 7-footer on the court, unexpectedly playing in back-to-back games as he tries to round back into form, had to be comforting for the Nets.
They haven't had their full complement of players much this season, given that between them, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace have missed 14 of the first 23 games. But with Lopez's return, the Nets hope they can find some consistency.
"We know what we can do when we have a full deck," Joe Johnson said after Saturday's 83-82 loss to the Bulls. "We've shown that earlier in the season and we are just trying to get back to that point."
Said Lopez, who had 27 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots in 49 minutes in the two games: "No question. At the beginning of the season, we had our full roster and we were playing our best basketball of the season. So once we get everyone back on the same page now, I think we will definitely be all right."
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for the Nets is offensive inconsistency. With so many players who can fill it up, that wasn't supposed to be an issue. But there have been few games in which everyone has had it going, and that includes the Nets' All-Star backcourt. It seems that when Deron Williams is playing well, Johnson struggles, and vice versa.
"We really, as a whole unit, haven't really clicked offensively all season as far as everybody being on at the same time," Williams said. "And our offense just isn't working for a full game. We've had bits and pieces and we've had guys be hot and other guys not be hot. But we haven't had everybody on the same page all year."
Does it stem from having two of their starters missing significant time?
"I don't think that's it," Williams said. "We are not going to blame it on that. I don't know what the reason is."
At least with Lopez back, coach Avery Johnson can re-establish his bench rotation the way it was before Andray Blatche had to be inserted into the starting lineup. The Nets' bench depth just isn't the same without Blatche, so that's another positive about Lopez's return.
"Well, it helps a lot," Avery Johnson said. "Now that guys like Blatche are back on the bench, we have to make sure that they are playing with the same intensity that everybody was that was starting."