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Hanging together help Nets through tough times

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Memphis Grizzlies v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Hanging together through tough times is a sports axiom. It’s also imbued in American culture. As Benjamin Franklin said during some troubling times in the Revolutionary War: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

And so, the Nets did for the most part pulled a Franklin and hung together through eight straight losses (following a catastrophic injury to their best player) and this weekend, renewed a lot of our faith in them by beating the winningest team in the NBA and their crosstown rival in a back-to-back.

The demons were put back in their cages at least for now.

“We were down and out there, eight losses in a row, so to get those two wins, my Sunday will be a lot better,” Kenny Atkinson said. “We call it a ‘Q of L’ win, ‘quality of life’ win, feel a little better and everything tastes a little better.”

“The biggest thing mentally was how to stick with it, how to stay together, stay connected,” said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who as Greg Logan notes showed defensive skills and toughness in both games. “That’s something big and something tough to do. Certain people and certain teams kind of go their separate ways. Practice is over, go home.

“But not us. We stayed locked in, we stayed together. We laugh together, we joke together, we talked about it. Once we went through that tough phase, it paid off.”

That tough phase included not just losses but heartbreakers to the Thunder, the 76ers, the Grizzlies and even the Cavs, making that resilience all the more important.

The players also tried something new on the day before Raptors game. Not a players-only meeting or group text (we see you, Chicago) but a players’ only video session. So Nets.

“I think our communication ratcheted up a notch. In a players-only film session, it forces guys to communicate. You can’t just sit there like statues and watch the tape go by,” Spencer Dinwiddie, weekend’s offensive star, told Logan. “It was more technical things. You talk about, ‘Hey, I thought you were going to switch there.’ Just things like that. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem with you.’”

“I think it changed a lot,” DeMarre Carroll said of the film session. “It changed a lot from opening guys’ eyes. A lot of the guys when you’re young you think you’ve got to take the game over by yourself, but in reality, if the team wins everybody wins, so I think it changed a lot in that aspect. A lot of guys now understand that they need the team and we all need each other, so that’s a good thing.”

Only once, at least publicly, was there a blotch on the culture: Kenneth Faried, who’s now been DNP’d 20 times, liked a series of Instagram posts calling for him to get more time, including one that called Jared Dudley a “bum.” Faried apologized, Dudley accepted and Atkinson said he’d talked to Faried.

Bottom line for the Nets: they believe their culture (the one some fans denigrate) got them through the worst of times.

Meanwhile, Atkinson provided somewhat of an update on Caris LeVert.

“I know he’s in the gym shooting. I’ll say that,” said Atkinson. “That’s about as much as I can say. But progressing, on schedule and looking forward to having him back.”