Team feels playoffs are realistic goal

The Sports Xchange

--Although they now own a dismal 14-27 record, a second straight win has put some hope in the Nets' season. Yes, this is a team that is actually thinking about making the playoffs.

"We've been looking at it," Nets starting small forward DeShawn Stevenson said. "Coach (Avery Johnson) has this thing where we have to win seven out of 10 games every week and a half or two weeks. So after this win, we're now 3-1 this week. We have it in our minds. We've been playing harder and it's definitely a goal. We started off slow, had a ton of injuries, but we've kept our heads in it and we definitely can make a playoff run."

There is one good quality. With the win Friday night, the Nets are now 10-14 on the road. They do play nine of their next 11 games at the Prudential Center in Newark, where they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night but where they have a 4-13 mark this year.

"We have been fighting through all kinds of adversity with injuries and other things, but the main thing is that we're sticking together," said guard Anthony Morrow. "We have great team chemistry on and off the court."

So is the playoff push realistic? The Nets now stand just 4 1/2 games behind the Knicks for the eighth and final spot in the NBA's Eastern Conference standings. They might have to battle Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto for that spot as well.

"We talked about that the last time we were in Charlotte," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "But we know we have to get awfully hot. We can't win two out of 10 games or one out of five. If we're going to do something, we have to play consistent basketball and we have to play well at home."

That first test comes Saturday night -- and it will come without the team's leading scorer, Deron Williams, who will sit out the game with an injured calf.

--For all intents and purposes, it appears as if Mehmet Okur's career as a member of the New Jersey Nets is over.

The center, who has missed the last 18 games with a problematic back, is now listed as "out indefinitely." Nets coach Avery Johnson is not encouraged that the former All-Star will return this season.

"The back situation has not responded at all," Johnson said. "We've tried a little bit of everything. So we've just taken the pressure off him. We don't have a timeframe now. We'll just continue to treat him. We treat him, we rest him and then he goes out on the floor and tries to shoot a little. Or we put him on the bike and then there's a setback on how he recovers. Right now, he's out indefinitely and we don't know what that means. We don't know if it's four more weeks, five more weeks or the rest of the season."

"I banged it on the side, it's nothing serious. Man, they'd have to cut my whole hand off for me to sit." -- Nets forward Gerald Green, who played despite an injured hand. Green, out of the NBA for three seasons, just signed a second 10-day contract with New Jersey and had eight points Friday in the Nets' 83-74 win over Charlotte.

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