EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The Nets are starting to get healthy again at a critical juncture.
Deron Williams (ankle) practiced and says he will play on Wednesday against the Bobcats and without any restriction. Brook Lopez says his injured ankle feels good enough to play and he’s just waiting for clearance. And Andrei Kirilenko says his ailing back is maybe three to four days away from being cleared for full contact.
Lopez, Kirilenko and Jason Terry (bruised knee) did not practice on Tuesday.
Lopez sprained his ankle landing on Kevin Garnett last week but says he has improved tremendously.
“Initially it was pretty bad,” Lopez said. “But it's healed so well since then. I’m not worried about it.”
Lopez and Kirilenko are traveling on this two-game road swing to Charlotte and Minnesota, and Jason Kidd said the team will see how Lopez is feeling after shootaround on Wednesday morning. The Nets need their key pieces back since they will play five of their next seven on the road.
Kirilenko might not return until next week.
“I need to get those workouts and gradually [get] better and better,” Kirilenko said of him traveling with the Nets. “It’s just all up to the doctors, if they are really confident. Because I am not confident, I am really trying to rely on the doctors and what they want for me because it [has taken] a little bit longer than I expect.”
“Usually I know how long it takes and it [has taken] way longer than I usually have [experienced],” Kirilenko said of his latest back injury. “So I am trying to take care a little bit more. That is why I am not [as] confident.”
We’re talking about practice: Allen Iverson might not have approved, but the Nets went through a long practice that lasted over two hours. And Garnett said it was an absolute must.
“It’s longer because hell, we need it,” Garnett said. “Obviously, the more teaching within the system that we’re all learning and trying to get down, trying to create this identity, that’s needed. Hell, if we got to be here two or three hours, then that’s what it is.”
After the players met behind closed doors following the Nets’ 108-98 loss to the Blazers on Monday, the team had a film session and lengthy and boisterous practice.
The Nets’ offense, defense and chemistry are very much a work in progress as Kidd tries to keep everything together.
“Coming in working on things that we’re not doing well or things that coaches see in our system that doesn’t serve any purpose, correcting things,” Garnett said. “We call it cleanup. Coming in working on those things, adding things, simplifying some things. Work. Coming in trying to get better.”
Figuring out The Truth: Paul Pierce said he's still trying to find his “rhythm within the offense.” Pierce shot 2-for-12 and scored 11 points in Monday’s loss to the Blazers.
He’s shooting 32 percent in his past five games. Pierce says his groin is sore but otherwise he feels healthy.
“Still trying to figure out where shots are going to come night in and night out,” Pierce said. “I think that's the biggest question, not only for me, but for all of us. That's why it's been a lot of inconsistencies for a lot of this, just understanding what we're trying to accomplish night in and night out.
“Some nights, I'll be a spot-up shooter, some nights the ball's going to go to me, so I just got to get a better feel for the chemistry of the offense, and eventually I'll get comfortable to where I'll get into a nice little groove.”