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Hollins promises to fight to the finish

Nets Drop Fifth Straight in Miami, Playoff Hopes Fading Fast

March 12, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lionel Hollins and his Nets look up at the scoreboard during Wednesday night’s loss in Miami. Brooklyn is running out of time in its pursuit of a third consecutive playoff berth since arriving in our fair borough. AP Photo
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Lionel Hollins isn’t interested in his team’s current woes.

A five-game losing streak and 3 ½-game deficit in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot won’t stop the Nets’ first-year head coach from whipping his foundering team down the stretch run of the NBA’s regular season.

“You keep fighting until the end,” Hollins insisted after Brooklyn (25-38) fell a season-high 13 games below .500 with Wednesday night’s 104-98 loss to the four-time defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in front of 19,600 fans at American Airlines Arena.

“As long as I have breath and as long as I’m coach, I’m going to keep fighting,” added Hollins, who only has 19 games left to shake some life into his dormant unit, which currently sits in 11th place in the East standings behind Boston, Charlotte and eighth-place Miami.

It was just last season that Brooklyn swept the regular-season series from the NBA Finals-bound Heat, only to fall in five tough games to Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

That Jason Kidd-led squad orchestrated an amazing in-season turnaround, going from 10-21 on New Year’s Eve to 44-38 before knocking off Atlantic Division champion Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs with a dramatic Game 7 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

But this Nets team doesn’t seem to have the chemistry or firepower to make a legitimate late-season surge.

Though it was in prime position to do so just over a week ago after coming out of the All-Star break with a 4-2 run to take sole possession of eighth place in the conference.

Five losses later, the Nets are left to wonder what could have been.

“It’s definitely tough right now,” said Nets point guard Deron Williams after finishing with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. “It’s not a good feeling. We had a chance to control our destiny and we’re throwing it away.”

Jarrett Jack also poured in 18 points and Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young added 15 apiece for Brooklyn, which lost all three of its meetings with the Heat this year, despite Miami losing the best player in the world, LeBron James, to Cleveland this past offseason.

Now, Brooklyn will head to Philadelphia on Saturday for the second length of its ongoing four-game road trip.

The Nets will visit the City of Brotherly Love without forward Sergey Karasev, who suffered a torn MCL and dislocated patella tendon in his right knee during the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s home loss to New Orleans.

Alan Anderson, who bruised his tailbone in the same game, also did not participate against the Heat, leaving the slumping Nets shorthanded, as well as seemingly uninspired.

If Hollins is true to his word, and the Nets can respond over the next several weeks, there is a slight chance that Brooklyn will see its team in the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

But in all likelihood, the old-school coach with the never-say-die attitude will simply be whipping a dead horse down the stretch.

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