The All-Star break is just one game away, and while many rival executives believe the Nuggets might seek to re-engage the Nets as players again in the Carmelo Anthony chase, the team is merely looking forward to a few days to heal, recuperate and prepare for the final 36 games.
"It will give us time to get healthy. Get another guy in the rotation with D.J. (rookie Damion James) back," said guard Devin Harris. "It will give us a chance to rest a little bit."
And then the second half will see the Nets continue tinkering, trying new looks -- James is scheduled to start again at some point. Already, the Nets have used 12 different starting lineups, some through injury, some through experimentation, some through curiosity. That could continue as coach Avery Johnson continues building for the future. Even Monday, he rolled out a different starting lineup for the second half, inserting Quinton Ross at small forward in place of Travis Outlaw.
"The past couple of weeks, we've been playing some good basketball, for the most part, and we're trying to build on that positive energy," said guard Jordan Farmar. "So hopefully we go to Boston before the All-Star break and play well, come back with some energy to end the season."
Of course, before the break that last game is a beaut -- at the Celtics on Wednesday, a follow-up to their Monday drubbing by the Spurs in New Jersey.
"Nice opponents to go out on," Harris said with sarcasm. "Spurs at home, the best record in the NBA. Obviously, another matchup with Boston."
This will be the Nets' third meeting of the season with the Celtics, who won the first two. Boston got 25 points from Shaquille O'Neal in an 89-83 victory in Boston on Nov. 24 and then clobbered the Nets 100-75 in New Jersey on Dec. 5 even though the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo, who was injured. Rondo's replacement, Nate Robinson, scored 21 points.
SPURS 102, NETS 85: The Spurs came to New Jersey on Monday and showed why they have the best record in the league. They unleashed six double-figure scorers on one end of the floor and then limited the Nets to .348 shooting the other way. Another season-long problem for the Nets, beyond a lack of talent, arose: closing quarters. After fighting to within six in the third, for example, the Nets were riddled by an 8-0 Spurs run that iced the game. Brook Lopez and Travis Outlaw each scored 11 for the Nets, the lowest team-high total of the season.
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