- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Murphy started at power forward against the Bobcats after missing the first week of the regular season and the entire preseason with what coach Avery Johnson called a "bad disk" in his lower back.
Johnson said before the game that he would restrict Murphy to 24 minutes against Charlotte, and he expects to limit Murphy's minutes until next week at the earliest.
"He's not back where he was last year," Johnson said. "But he's going to get there."
Still, having Murphy back at less than 100 percent is a welcome addition for the 2-1 Nets. The 30-year-old Sparta, N.J., native has averaged 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in nine seasons in the NBA.
Murphy is expected to provide another perimeter threat for New Jersey, which is coming off a blowout home loss to the Heat on Sunday. Murphy is a career 40 percent 3-point shooter.
"He shoots it really well," said center Brook Lopez. "Obviously that strengthens us."
Murphy averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season for the Indiana Pacers. In 2008-2009, Murphy became the only player in NBA history to rank in the top five in both rebounding and 3-point field goal percentage.
"He's an proven NBA starter, and he's been that way for a while," Johnson said.
The Nets acquired Murphy in a four-team trade in August. An MRI in early October revealed that Murphy had injured his lower back. He missed the team's preseason trip to Russia and China and began practicing two days before the season opener.
"I feel pretty good. I woke up today and there was no soreness. I'm looking forward to going tonight," Murphy said after the Nets' shootaround on Wednesday morning.
Joe Smith, who has started the Nets' first three games at power forward, is inactive for Wednesday's game. He's played just seven minutes per game.
"That's no knock on Joe," Johnson said. "He just hasn't played a lot and this is a different stage of Joe's career."
Favors, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, is averaging 21.3 minutes per game through three games. He recorded his first double-double against the Heat on Sunday and came into Wednesday's game against the Bobcats averaging 10.0 rebounds and 10.3 points per game.
"This whole year is about Favors growing as an NBA player. So his minutes won't be affected," Johnson said.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
18hSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann