Nets' Lonnie Walker IV, left, drives the ball during the...

Nets' Lonnie Walker IV, left, drives the ball during the NBA basketball game between Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, at the Accor Arena in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Christophe Ena

The Nets returned from Paris well-rested after a week of traveling and enjoying the culture. But they also hope the positives from their loss to the Cavaliers have followed them home.

They outscored the Cavaliers by 11 after halftime yet lost because of poor shooting in the first half. The Nets also showed more fight in the second half, especially defensively, despite trailing by double figures most of the game.

Maybe the best sight was Lonnie Walker IV finding his shooting touch. In his third game back from a hamstring injury, he had 20 points and looked like the scorer the Nets have missed.

“I was ready. I think the only difference was you know, it was the bump up in minutes and then just finally being able to play and catch the rhythm. So it felt good,” Walker said Sunday.

Walker was held scoreless in his first two games as he missed the five shots he took. But his breakout is good news for the Nets considering their scoring issues during this stretch of 12 losses in their last 14 games. Beginning Dec. 14, when they lost to the Nuggets, the Nets are last in the NBA in three-point percentage, third worst in field-goal shooting and fifth worst in points per game and offensive efficiency.

The defensive issues stand out more because that’s what the Nets have harped on. But they’ve become stagnant on offense. They’ve had two 34-point halves since Jan. 1 and were outscored 16-4 to start last Wednesday’s game.

Walker’s scoring helped bail out the Nets when Cam Thomas was injured for nine games in November. Now it may be needed to help save them again and ease some of the scoring burden on Thomas and Mikal Bridges.

The Nets badly need long-range shooting, and Walker’s four three-pointers against the Cavaliers reminded why he’s fifth in the league in three-point shooting.

“That’s huge for us, for his confidence, for him to get back in the groove where he left off before he was injured,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He was playing high-level basketball from all three levels. We got a chance to see that.”

There’s hope that Thomas and Walker can be a 1-2 punch off the bench to replace Day’Ron Sharpe’s energy. Sharpe will miss at least another week because of a hyperextended left knee and, while the Nets can’t replace his rebounding, the bench needs another scorer with teams keying on Thomas.

Vaughn reiterated that he’ll be cautious with Walker’s minutes while he’s easing back into form. But his scoring might be too important to limit him, given how the Nets have struggled the last month.

“You live for games like those, so it felt good to be in the midst of a battle,” Walker said. “We lost that fight, but there’s plenty more to go.’’

For the Nets to have a chance in those battles and reverse this month of futility, they’ll need Walker to continue resembling that player he was before he got hurt.

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