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Nets try to stop losing streak vs Pacers

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that wasn’t the best way to start Black History Month ... or any month in any year, for that matter.

The Nets began February with a home game against their crosstown neighbors, the New York Knicks. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t beat their foes and wound up losing 95-90. It was their seventh straight loss and tenth straight at home.

The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Pacers. In a crowded bottom half of the Eastern Conference, Indy hopes to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They’ve won their last four games, including Wednesday night’s affair in Orlando. This is the first night of a back-to-back for them. They head home to face the Pistons tomorrow night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.


No Jeremy Lin.

Not much doing for Indiana.

The game

The Nets won the first game in October and the Pacers won the second one in November.

If you’re looking for a positive from the last Nets game, they held their opponent under 100 points! In fact, it was the first time they had done so since December 14th against the Lakers, a streak that ran 24 games. In trying times like these, it’s the little things that get you through.

Paul George usually struggles in January, but changed things up in a major way this season. In 13 games, the Pacers swingman averaged 24.5 points a game on a 47.5/42.3/92.3 shooting split. Our friends at Indy Cornrows have more on PG. Rondae Hollis Jefferson got the start last night and played pretty well. His three point shot isn’t there, but he contributes in other areas on the court and for a Nets team that needs all the help it can get, that’s more than OK. He should get the start again tonight and should be starting every game at small forward from here on out. RHJ and Caris Levert have played incredibly well when they’ve been on the court together and it’s something we will see more of as the year progresses.

Thaddeus Young has been doing well for Indy. The former Net has been taking more three pointers this season and has connected on a career high 39.6 of them. He’s been a key part of their recent turnaround and fits well next to budding star Myles Turner.

As for the Nets, an area where the Nets have struggled, where Atkinson eyes improvement over the last two months and change of the season – fourth quarter offense, which was the reason the Nets failed to finish off their inner-city rival.

“What happens in the NBA with the majority of teams, they run pick-and-roll at the end of the game,” the coach said. “Our pick-and-roll guys are young guys, so that’s Caris, that’s Isaiah, it’s our guards. Sean (Kilpatrick) has got a little more experience so he can handle the burden. Randy (Foye) has got a little more experience. We’re throwing Caris and Isaiah out there – which I like. How else are you going to get better?”

With guys like Foye, Kilpatrick, Joe Harris, Justin Hamilton and Brook Lopez’s newfound deep stroke, the Nets were thought to be a team that would fire up many three’s.

As a team they’ve hit just under 34% percent, with only the Orlando, Oklahoma City and Chicago ranking lower. As a team, the Nets are averaging 32.4 attempts from deep, which is the fourth most in the league.

Atkinson wants more.

“I don’t like that we’re not getting enough of them; not enough attempts. We’ve dipped,” Atkinson said of the Nets who shot slightly fewer threes over the last two months (around 31 per game). “I think switching is hurting us. With switching, you don’t get separation in the pick and roll so teams could stay at home more. We’ve got to do a better job at driving and kicking when they do switch and take advantage of mismatches.

“We do look at attempts, I think it’s important, I worry when we don’t get enough attempts. We’re getting a lot of three point shots on the season, but lately there’s been a dip in our attempts, I want to get that back up.”

“We don’t look at a specific number but we do look at where’s our spacing,” he continued. “We’re looking at high value shots, how can we get these high value uncontested shots. That’s our goal, to be the most efficient as possible.”

Player to watch: Jeff Teague

Teague came over from the Hawks in the summer and has done reasonably well. He’s not shooting as much as he did last season, and has been distributing the ball more to make up or it. He’s averaging a career high nine assists a game and Indiana has been better with him on the court as opposed to when he’s not on. Teague is in the third tier of point guards in the league, but he’s more than capable of running a team’s offense.

Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwidde will be manning the point for Brooklyn once again. They combined to go 3-15 with six assists on Wednesday against the Knicks. The Nets offense tends to stagnate, and if they’re not getting anything out of the point guard position, then they have no chance of winning. They need Lin back in the worst way.

From the Vault

First Lady of NetsDaily Beyonce announced that she and Jay-Z are expecting twins on Wednesday. Head on back to 2011 when she announced her first pregnancy.

More reading: Indy Cornrows