Nets-Bobcats Preview


Though the slumping Brooklyn Nets kicked off a road-heavy stretch in disappointing fashion, a visit to Charlotte could help them bounce back.

Hoping to avoid a fifth loss in six games, Brooklyn tries for a sixth consecutive win over the NBA-worst Bobcats on Wednesday night.

The Nets (34-26), whose 33 home games are tied for the most in the league, will be spending most of the next four weeks in opposing arenas. Brooklyn finds itself in the midst of a stretch of 12 of 15 on the road, capped by a season-high eight-game trek March 18-April 3.

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"I don't like it," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "I'd much rather the schedule was more balanced and we didn't have the circus in for whatever it's in for. A lot of teams go through this at different stages of the year. Some teams are fortunate they schedule away from the playoffs, and it really helps them. We're far from the lone rangers. A lot of teams go through this. Ours is coming at a bad time. You don't want it to happen in March."

The Nets are coming off Saturday's 96-85 loss at Chicago, having committed 21 turnovers - one off a season high - while letting the Bulls shoot 52.1 percent. Brooklyn has lost four of five while averaging 88.8 points, 6.2 below its season mark.

"Until we can play consistently for more than a three or four-game stretch, until we can play consistently on the road, particularly now, in March, this is what we're gonna be," Carlesimo added. "We just have to tighten it up. We have to play a lot better, and we have to do it soon."

In an effort to change things up, Carlesimo plans to play All-Star center Brook Lopez and fellow big man Andray Blatche together more often. The Nets have gone 14-6 when Blatche, who averages 10.0 points, scores at least 13.

"I think it's a good strategy," said Deron Williams, averaging 22.2 points over the last six games. "With the way things have been going lately, it doesn't hurt to try. We pick and roll with those guys, now (teams) have to worry about two people instead of one. That opens things up for not only me, but the rest of the team."

The Nets have to like their chances of bouncing back against the Bobcats (13-47), who have dropped 20 of 22 at home and been outscored by an average of 10.2 points during a five-game losing streak in this series. Lopez had 26 points and 11 rebounds as Brooklyn cruised to a 97-81 victory Dec. 28 in the teams' only matchup this season.

Charlotte, which has dropped seven straight by 22.1 points per game, saw its woes continue with Monday's 122-105 loss at Portland. The Bobcats shot a season-worst 10.0 percent (1 for 10) from 3-point range while the Trail Blazers hit a season-high 59.8 percent from the field.

"We have to stick with our principles," swingman Gerald Henderson said. "It's tough to lose every night, but we've got to stay positive, keep our attitudes right, and continue to try and get better, practice-by-practice and game-by-game."

Leading the team with 17.3 points per game, Kemba Walker is averaging 12.3 on 29.1 percent shooting over the last four games.

Charlotte has lost 26 consecutive games when Walker scores 16 points or fewer. He was held to five on 2-of-10 shooting versus Brooklyn in December.

Starting forward Byron Mullens only played three minutes Monday after suffering a knee injury, leaving his status for this game unknown.

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