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Game 17 - Nets vs. Bobcats - Sunday, January 22, 6:00 p.m.

Think of the season thus far this way and you may feel better: After a miserable start with two rotation players requiring foot surgery and a third not far off, the Nets are two games out of the playoffs, thanks in part to woeful starts by teams some (not us) thought could be championship contenders, the Celtics and the Knicks.

Also, the Nets next opponent, the Bobcats, are in worse shape. They're 3-13, one fewer wins than the Nets, but have lost three in a row and nine of their last 10. Their owner may be able to dunk, but he has problems putting together a roster. For the Nets, Shawne Williams may play, although he's said he may need foot surgery of his own.

Charlotte has a couple of almost-Nets on its roster. Tyrus Thomas had a handshake deal with the Nets on a $40 million contract in July 2010 then backed out overnight; Gerald Henderson was told he was going to the Nets on Draft Night 2009 only to be disappointed when the Nets took Terrence Williams. Of course, they also have Kemba Walker, who will resume an old rivalry with MarShon Brooks. The Nets have given out 500 free tickets to Barclays Center construction workers for the game, but they, like us, are likely to be conflicted with the Giants-49ers game starting a half hour after Nets-Bobcats.