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News » Wizards-Nets Preview 2009-02-20

Wizards-Nets Preview 2009-02-20

Wizards-Nets Preview 2009-02-20
Despite being seven games below .500, the New Jersey Nets still harbor playoff hopes. That could change if their offense doesn't improve soon.

The Nets have a good chance to snap out of their offensive slump and avoid a fifth straight loss Friday night when they host the Eastern Conference-worst Washington Wizards.

As it opens a four-game homestand, New Jersey (24-31) is in 10th place in the East - one-half game behind ninth-place Chicago and only two games back of Milwaukee for the final postseason berth. The Nets are trying to get back to the playoffs after their six-year streak of reaching the postseason was snapped in 2008.

New Jersey, however, isn't playing like a playoff-caliber team. The Nets have lost four straight by an average of 18.3 points. They've scored an average of 90.8 during that stretch - nearly eight points below their season average.

Despite the slump, which continued Tuesday with a 113-98 loss in Dallas, team president Rod Thorn chose not to make any roster moves before Thursday's trade deadline even while the Bulls and the New York Knicks - who are one game behind the Nets - were both making deals.

"You never know when you bring guys on in the middle of the year how it's going to affect your chemistry and how it's going to affect your play short term," Thorn told the Nets' official Web site. "We've got some games coming up in which we need to do well and if we do, I think we'll be in the hunt until the end."

The Nets will now look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season, set Jan. 14-23. On Tuesday, Devin Harris scored 18 points but shot only 5 of 18 from the field. Brook Lopez added 16 points for the Nets, who were outscored 40-15 in the third quarter.

New Jersey is averaging only 22.9 points in the third - third-fewest in the NBA.

"The first quarters, we were with them stride for stride, but the third quarter is what's done us in all season," Harris said.

It certainly did them in when they hosted the Wizards on Dec. 2, as Washington outscored New Jersey 35-12 in the third quarter.

Washington (12-42) has dropped 10 of 13 overall, but won its first game after the All-Star break 111-103 over Minnesota on Tuesday. Antawn Jamison had 29 points to lead six Wizards in double figures and added 11 rebounds.

Washington is looking to win consecutive games for only the second time this season, and the first time since Dec. 27 and 29 over Oklahoma City and Houston.

The Wizards expect to have Caron Butler in the lineup against the Nets, despite the fact he missed Wednesday's practice with a left hip injury sustained in Tuesday's win.

"There (was) no sense in beating him up on the first day," interim coach Ed Tapscott said of his decision to keep Butler out of practice. "Let his body feel better so he'll be prepared to play on Friday."

New Jersey holds a 2-1 edge in the season series, but the road team has won all three contests.

The Wizards have lost six straight on the road overall.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 20, 2009


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