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Nets hope to ‘D’-up Spurs ... and make some shots

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Houston Rockets v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images

A win is a win is a win is a win. Aesthetically, the Nets victory over a woeful Pelican squad was as bad a game as you’ve seen in the later stages of the Atkinson era. But once again, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen came to the rescue in overtime. By game’s end, the three vets had scored 67 points and played solid defense.

And so, the Nets are 15-12, a 46-win pace. But they’re also 11-5 without their three best players (or as we keep saying the players we thought would be their best players.) That works out to a 56-win pace.

As Rachel Nichols of ESPN said Wednesday, Nets just want to have fun.

Now, the Nets are in San Antonio, where so many of the Nets staff got their start under Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. It’s a tough time for San Antonio. They are 10-16 and fresh off a two-point loss at home to the Rockets. After 22 straight years of playoff runs —including five championships— the whiff of rebuild is in the air.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:30 p.m. ET.


The Nets will be without four players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Nicolas Claxton, “No update, no timetable,” Kenny Atkinson said in the latest “update” if you can even all it that. David Nwaba is probable with a right ankle sprain.

Nothing to report in the Alamo City.

The Game

The last five games have been crazy for the Spurs. They played four straight overtime games, winning three of them, then on Tuesday, they went up by 25 vs. the Rockets in the second quarter, only to lose by two. It was Houston’s biggest comeback ever.

The lesson here is that the Spurs still have it in spurts. (Yeah, that was intentional.) As Pounding the Rock, our sister Spurs site, writes,, that while the Nets are becoming the Spurs East, the Spurs themselves are hardly a model.

The Spurs ... have yet to find their stride on a nightly (or even quarterly) basis, in spite of sporting comparable (and perhaps even superior) health and talent. It is, most surprisingly, San Antonio’s execution that is responsible for their unfortunate record, leaving us with the confounding spectacle of the most decidedly un-Spursy team in recent memory.

In the wake of that furious Houston comeback of a couple night ago, this is a game that will absolutely test San Antonio’s mettle. Fail to execute for all four quarters, and this game will almost certainly end badly. This is not a squad against which the silver and black will be able to sit back and watch self destruct

The game will be the Nets best shot at ending one of their most ignominious streaks, 16 straight losses in games played in San Antonio. The Nets last regular season win in the Alamo City, in fact, came on Jan. 22, 2002, during Jason Kidd’s first season as a Net. San Antonio has a .913 winning percentage at home against the Nets, its highest home winning percentage against any team.

If the Nets have any chance, they’ll have to continue their sterling defense. Since losing Kyrie Irving, they have the second-best field-goal defense in the league. They forced the Pelicans to miss 17 straight shots at the end of the second and beginning of the third periods.

On the other hand, the Nets have the worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league over the last five games. It would be nice to keep playing D while hitting some three’s.

The game will be somewhat of a homecoming for Jarrett Allen, who grew up in nearby Austin. The Fro visited his old high school, St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Wednesday where his jersey —No. 35— was retired. Reports from the scene were positive.

Player to Watch

He may not play —he’s only played 11 game so far this season— but it will be good to see DeMarre Carroll again. Carroll, a mainstay of the Nets last two seasons, was sent to San Antonio in an off-season three-team sign-and-trade that’s paying him $7 million this season.

The Nets got two stashes in the deal —Nemanja Dangubic and Aaron White. Neither look like an NBA player right now.

Carroll is averaging 2.5 points, 2,6 rebounds and shooting 25 percent from three in a paltry 10.6 minutes per game. He’s now 33.

From the Vault

Although the last regular season win for the Nets in San Antone came in the 2001-02 season, the Nets did beat the Spurs in the 2003 Finals. Here’s the full game video. Lots of recognizable faces and a few Hall of Famers. Jason Kidd had 30 of the Nets 87 points.

More reading: Pounding the Rock