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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Frontcourt successful since trade deadline

By Mike Mazzeo

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King attempted to bolster his frontcourt at the trade deadline, but was unsuccessful.

In the latest episode of "The Association," fans can watch as King hears a "no" from Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry on the Josh Smith front.

Ultimately, the Nets were forced to stand pat.

Since the Feb. 21 deadline, they are 9-7, though they’ve won eight of their last 11 games. And their frontcourt is a key reason why.

Check out these stats:

Reggie Evans (last 11 games): 8.6 points, 16.4 rebounds, 53.1 percent shooting
Brook Lopez (last 9 games): 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 55.8 percent shooting
Gerald Wallace (last 3 games): 12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 50 percent shooting.

With the exception of Joe Johnson (quad/heel), the Nets (42-29) are a pretty healthy bunch. And while it’s unknown if/when Johnson will recover to the point where he’s extremely effective again, the fact that Evans and Wallace are contributing more offensively is huge -- especially with Deron Williams playing like the Deron Williams of old.

The Nets don’t need Evans and Wallace to score 20 a night. But it certainly helps when they are finishing shots at the rim at a strong clip. Both players already bring so much in terms of leadership, energy and effort. Additional offense only adds to that.

• If Johnson sits out the rest of the road trip -- and he just might -- the Nets will have eight regular-season games remaining and just one back-to-back set. Brooklyn could then be conservative with him the rest of the way so as to get him healthy before the playoffs.

• Winning the Atlantic Division is looking like a long-shot for the Nets (42-29). They trail the Knicks (44-26) by 2 1/2 games and New York has a game in hand. The Knicks currently own the NBA’s longest winning streak (six). If the season ended Thursday, the Nets would play the Chicago Bulls in the first round (a tough game). Win that series, and the Nets would get the top-seeded Miami Heat in Round 2 (Tougher.)

• The Nets are 4-1 on their eight-game circus road trip. They’ve never won five games on a road trip in franchise history.

• D-Will’s six points on Wednesday night was a season-low. Granted, no one cared because the Nets blew out the Portland Trail Blazers. Oh, and because he had 10 assists and shut down Portland’s phenom point guard Damian Lillard (4-for-12 shooting).