Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the Brooklyn Nets puts up...

Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the Brooklyn Nets puts up a shot in the first half against Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Dennis Smith Jr. gave the Nets a lift in his first two games after returning from injury, but he was ruled out Friday because of recurring back issues.

Smith participated in shootaround but told the team he felt stiff afterward. The Nets added him to the injury list two hours before tipoff with upper- back soreness before declaring him out.

“He got reassessed. Tried to get to a place to play and just won’t be able to go,” coach Jacque Vaughn said before the game.

Smith missed six games with a sprained lower back before returning last Saturday. He also missed a game earlier this season with a left hip contusion.

Vaughn said it was too soon to determine if Smith will miss any time on the team’s upcoming road trip, which begins Monday in Sacramento. 

Quarterly assessments

With the Nets at 11-9 entering Friday’s game and about one-quarter of the way through the season, Vaughn reflected on where things stand.

Despite injuries, they have a top-10 offense, which surprised Vaughn the most. They also lead the league in rebounding after being second-worst last season and are second in three-point percentage.

“We played one game with our entire roster. What I have liked about this group is we have never used that as an excuse,” he said. “That piece of it, I love our group improving that way, just figuring things out together.” 

Walker update

The Nets are still determining if Lonnie Walker IV will travel with the team on the five-game road trip, but Walker will not play on the trip because of a strained left hamstring. The travel issue is more about if it’s better for him to remain home for treatment. 

Good home cooking

Friday was the Nets’ 13th home game of the season. It’s tied with the Bulls for the most home games.

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