Nets host short-handed Trailblazers in must-win game

By on April 6, 2015


Published: Sunday, April 5, 2015, 2:55 PM

Updated: Sunday, April 5, 2015, 5:09 PM

More than two months later, the Nets can thank those meteorologists and alarmists for overestimating Winter Storm Juno. The “‘Snow Big Deal” of 2015 postponed their game against the Trailblazers on Jan. 26, with the makeup date slated for Monday in Brooklyn. It’s about as inconvenient as you can get for the Trailblazers’ travel schedule, requiring them to fly across the country twice in three days before taking another flight from Portland to San Francisco on the fourth day.

The Blazers, having clinched the division title Saturday, are hardly bothering with Monday’s game — opting to leave home three key players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Chris Kaman.

Not that it assures a victory for the Nets (35-41), who are coming off an abysmal defensive performance in Saturday’s loss to the Hawks. Neither Aldridge nor Batum played when Portland hosted the Nets in November, and Brooklyn still succumbed easily that night to Dame Lillard (28 points, 10 assists).

“We just have to win,” coach Lionel Hollins said Saturday, repeating his mantra of the last few weeks. “I keep saying it, ‘We have to win.'”

A defeat would assure the Nets their first losing season since their move to Brooklyn, which would be a much bigger deal for the most expensive roster in the NBA if it weren’t immersed in the homestretch of a playoff race. The Nets, who won’t have Alan Anderson (sprained ankle) for a second straight game, will remain in the tenuous seventh spot, a half-game ahead of Boston.

Five of their six remaining games are at home – where they are riding a five-game winning streak — and five are against playoff teams.

After finishing off a stretch of four games in five nights, the Nets were off on Easter and trying to wash the stench of allowing 131 points tin Atlanta. To put that in perspective, they played two triple overtime games and hadn’t given up that many points this season.

“These games happen from time-to-time, you kind of just brush them off,” Deron Williams said. “There’s not a lot of positives you can take from that game.”

The positives were moving onto a team that was leaving its frontcourt across the country.

Avery Johnson has been out of a coaching job for almost 16 months after being abruptly fired by Mikhail Prokhorov only 28 games into the 2012-13 season.

But the first coach in Brooklyn Nets history will be the next coach at the University of Alabama ,having met with the school’s AD over the weekend, a source confirmed to the Daily News.

Johnson, a former NBA Coach of the Year with the Mavericks, was Prokhorov’s first big hire after buying the Nets in 2010. After two difficult transition years in New Jersey, he was off to a hot start in Brooklyn – winning the Coach of the Month for November – but was fired two days after Christmas with the team at 14-14.

He has since worked as a studio analyst at ESPN.

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