When Brook Lopez was out last season, Jeremy Bettle, the team's strength and conditioning coach, got him on a regimen to bulk up. It's worked. He weighed in at 280 pounds Saturday, 15 pounds more than he did his rookie season four years ago.

It's made a big difference in his play. His defense has improved, his rebounding has improved, his offense has improved. On Tuesday, he may or may not go up against his nemesis, Dwight Howard, depending on D12's back and shoulder pain. If he does, the Nets believe he will be better prepared.

"We've got a 7-footer with presence around the basket," P.J. Carlesimo told Newsday. "It's night and day. His attention to defense is so much better than it was before and it's helped our team defense significantly."