The Oklahoma City Thunder come to Brooklyn tonight as the Nets look to make another statement in their budding inaugural season. It's one thing to beat the oldest team in the league, it's quite another to face both of last year's conference champions in back-to-back games. After blowing a 14-point lead in a loss to the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat on Saturday, the Nets will play host to the last year's second-best team tonight. And it looks like they'll have to do it without their second-best player.

Though an MRI yesterday came back negative, center Brook Lopez will likely miss his third straight game with a right foot sprain. When pressed for a timetable on his return, coach Johnson only replied, "We don't have a sense yet. Let's just see how he progresses."

The Northwest division leading Thunder (14-4) represent a young successful squad the Nets would love to emulate: a team that moved cities with a rising young star in Kevin Durant who took Oklahoma City to the finals in his fifth season. And while no one's picking Brooklyn to go to the Finals yet, a win tonight would go a long way towards proving these new-look Nets are a serious playoff contender. In order to do that, they'll have to stop the league's most prolific offense: the Thunder come in tonight averaging over 105 points per game.

After a hard-fought victory against the Celtics last Wednesday and a warm-up in Orlando Friday, the Nets were riding a five-game winning streak heading into Saturday night's showdown with the defending champions. And for most of three quarters it looked like they were going to avenge the 30-point thrashing they experienced in Miami nearly a month ago. Brooklyn led by as many as 14-points, and finished the half up 59-50.

Then poof! It all came crashing down in 93 seconds—the time it took the Heat to reel off ten unanswered points with about four minutes left in the third to take the lead and control of the game. The Nets then collapsed in the fourth, failing to make a shot for the first 9:06 of the quarter, only scoring 11 points in all. Despite six people hitting for double-digits in the game, including Deron Williams' seventh double-double (10 points, 12 assists), it wasn't enough to offset their porous second-half defense.

"Just a tale of two halves," Nets coach Avery Johnson said afterwards. "We just seemed to have worn down a little bit. We made some mistakes there that's not our team. It's uncharacteristic of us. We're a team that takes care of the ball." Playing four road games in five nights, the Nets could chalk up their fourth quarter meltdown in Miami to fatigue. After two days off, tonight's game against OKC kicks off a light week for the Nets with only three games over the next eight days, which should prove beneficial for a team who will once again be without Brook Lopez's 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds.

An injury to the same foot that caused Lopez to miss all but five games last season is doubly worrisome because Deron Williams has admitted he's still searching to find his game, averaging career lows in field and three-point shooting percentages, and his 15.4 points per game is the lowest since his rookie season.

Still, the Nets are 5-1 in their last six games, 11-5 overall, and will be in the warm confines of the Barclay's Center where they have only lost once all year. They also can boast the third best defense in the league, giving up only 91.1 points per game. That means they're winning with defense and without the best play from their best player — an argument the Nets could already be one of the elite teams in the league. Tonight they get to prove it.