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Nets head down to the ATL to play the Hawks

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Progress, but the results aren't there. The Brooklyn Nets played host to the upstart Portland Trailblazers on Friday night, but lost 116-104. This is the second night of a back-to-back. Once this game ends, they're headed to Toronto to play the Raptors on MLK Day.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Atlanta Hawks. They've been having a nice season and are fourth in the Eastern Conference, half a game behind the third seed Chicago Bulls and two games behind the Toronto Raptors. This is the second night of a back-to-back for the ATL as well. They lost in overtime against the Bucks in Milwaukee last night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (or not, if you have Comcast). WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip after 7:30.

Injuries

Willie Reed missed yesterday's game due to personal reasons. No word on his availability tonight.

Thabo Sefolosha has been dealing with a sore right wrist and hasn't played since January seventh. His status for tonight is unknown.

The game

Here we go

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Atlanta

Record

11-29 23-17

Pace

97.24 99.06

Offensive Efficiency

98 103.5

Defensive Efficiency

105.1 101.4

Turnover Rate

15.5 15

Assist Rate

16.3 19

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.6 20.3

Rebound Rate

50.1 47

Free Throw Rate

22.6 24.4

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.7 51.3

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

51.8 49.8

The Hawks won the first meeting in Atlanta while the Nets took the second one in Brooklyn.

In keeping with our theme of looking back at major moves made (and not made by the Nets) in 2011-2012, it's worth thinking about the one that got Joe Johnson here. The Hawks were a quality team, but went as far as they could with Johnson leading them, and shipped him north for spare parts that helped free up a bunch of salary. The guy who made the move for the Hawks? Danny Ferry (yes, that Danny Ferry). Ferry was back in the news this week when a report stated that the Nets' brain trust is considering him for the General Manager vacancy. We've got a long way to go before a decision is made on the coach/gm, so expect to hear a lot more names.

This was too fun to leave out. On plane rides, Hawks players like to play Uno. That by itself isn't worth mentioning, but as Scott Cacciola of the New York Times explains, it's a lot more than that:

The conventional objective — first player to get rid of all his cards wins — was enough to keep them interested, but they soon wanted to spice things up. So Bazemore and Schroder hatched the idea of adding some of the more notorious cards from at least two other decks — all the Draw 2s, Wild Draw 4s, Reverses and Skips. The players referred to the extra cards as "heat." The game was born anew.

The games almost always continue from takeoff to landing, and each player is expected to be a full participant, with no excused absences. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who was a part of the group earlier this season, learned that lesson. After a couple of weeks spent honing his Uno expertise, teammates said, he wanted to take a break, if only for one flight.

"He said he was tired and wanted to rest," Schroder said. "So we had to kick him out."

Stakes is high.

As usual in Nets-Hawks games, the center matchup between Brook Lopez and Al Horford. It'll be interesting to see how Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer manages his big man rotation as Horford played a season high 41 minutes and took a season high 23 shots last night. With this being the second night of a back-to-back, we might see more of Tiago Splitter. For the Nets, that's a sign that they should continue force feeding Lopez. The Nets don't have the luxury of keeping Lopez on the bench for extended periods when the game's close at any point in the fourth quarter, and seeing as how he played his fewest amount of minutes in a month (December 16 vs Miami), Lopez should be on the court for at least 30+ if the game is close throughout. As Tony Brown works more with this roster in the head coach role, he'll develop a better understanding of when to pull the reserves and get the A Team back in.

The Nets had trouble stopping guard penetration last night, and the combo of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder present a similar problem for Brooklyn. Both guards do a good job of getting to the basket and for Donald Sloan, they represent another challenge as he tries to hold on to the starting point guard position. He almost picked up the first triple double of his career and the first one for the Nets franchise since Terrence Williams got one in a double overtime game against the Bulls on April 9, 2010.

Player to watch: Kent Bazemore

The dapmaster has turned into a solid player for the Hawks. He's done a great job replacing DeMarre Carroll and has been given his first extended run in the starting lineup. He's become a dependable three point shooter and for a team that relies on good ball movement and the presence of Kyle Korver to create good looks from deep, having another player that can stretch the floor is essential to their attack. Earlier in the year, Coach Bud broke down what's made Bazemore so successful:

"I think he is getting a lot of good rhythm shots," Budenholzer said when asked about Bazemore's string of good performances. "He's getting a lot of opportunities...hopefully we're creating a lot of pressure on the paint, creating a lot of pressure on the rim. He can do that too. The great thing is, obviously he's making shots, but he can attack and break the defense down, and he finishes also.

He's a free agent this summer, and if he can continue to play well and has a breakout performance in the postseason, he might be in line for a major payday. Even if Ferry doesn't get the Nets job, Brooklyn might be wise to take a look at him and see what he could bring to the team.

We mentioned Joe Johnson earlier, and the former Hawk been playing better recently. He's shot 49 percent from the field and made half of his three pointers this month. With Johnson able to hit his shots, it creates more room for Lopez and Thad Young on the inside and gives the Nets something close to a threat from the outside. It may not be enough to save the Nets season, but it'll certainly make them more watchable if Johnson can keep playing well.

From the Vault

Tuesday was Dominique Wilkins' birthday, so to celebrate, let's watch Nique dunk on fools.

More reading: Peachtree Hoops