As if not having their starting center available wasn't tough enough, the Nets were without their main enforcer Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Already missing Brook Lopez as he works his way back from a ligament sprain in his right foot, Avery Johnson had to try to replace the production of reserve forward Reggie Evans, who sat out with flu symptoms.
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Evans is one of the Nets' most integral pieces, setting the tone off the bench. His rebounding prowess and defensive intensity make him one of the first players Johnson goes to when looking for an infusion of energy.
"That's a big blow for our team," Johnson said. "Reggie is our enforcer, rebounder, best pick-and-roll defender, and on and on. He's our fighter -- literally."
Brooks has faith
"That's a pretty dynamic backcourt, it's a very physical backcourt," Brooks said. "It's a backcourt that's going to shoot the ball better as the season goes along . . . That's going to be a difficult backcourt for a lot of teams to match up against."
Avery Johnson, named the NBA's Eastern Conference coach of the month, credited ownership, general manager Billy King and his players as the reason he received the accolade. "That's a special honor," he said. "It's good, but it has little to do with me, but more with those other folks.'' . . . Damaged by superstorm Sandy, significant progress has been made at the Nets' East Rutherford, N.J., training facility, and they could be practicing there by the middle of this month.