Friday, March 19, 2010
Nets' Harris, Yi expect to play Saturday
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets are getting reinforcements in their bid to avoid the worst record in NBA history.
Point guard Devin Harris and power forward Yi Jianlian practiced Friday and both said they will play for the Nets (7-61) on Saturday against the Toronto Raptors at the Izod Center.
Harris has missed the last two games with an upper respiratory infection. Yi has missed the last six with a sprained left ankle.
"Yi made it through practice. Devin made it through practice, so at this point I think we will have everyone," interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
The Nets need to win three of their final 14 games to avoid tying or breaking the league's record for single-season futility, a 9-73 mark set by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73.
New Jersey has lost six in a row, including dreadful efforts in losses to Atlanta and Philadelphia in its last two games.
The team spent time Friday watching the performances, maybe as punishment.
"The effort just has to be there," Harris said. "I think the wins and losses will take care of itself. We have to play hard enough in order to win these games. We, at points in time, play for 39 minutes, maybe 41 and sometimes 47, but we need to give those 48 minutes."
Harris said there are guys who are not playing as much as they want, but they also need to give maximum effort when they play.
Harris said there has been more talk about the dubious record in recent weeks, but the team is trying to focus on one game at a time.
Without Harris, the Nets played two horrible games, especially the game in Philadelphia.
"That was not a pretty sight," Harris said. "We watched a little bit today in the film room. We didn't bring it transition wise. We got beat all night long. It's tough to win when you give up so many transition points."
Vandeweghe said he wanted to see how Yi felt at Saturday's morning shoot-around before deciding whether he would start and how much he will play.
Yi, who wore an ice bag on his ankle after Friday's workout, said it took him a little extra time to warm up but once he got going he was OK.
"I feel pretty good," Yi said, adding he expects to play on Saturday.
The better scenario for Yi would be to start, since he would be warmed up entering the game.
The return of Harris also should help center Brook Lopez, who has struggled the past few games on offense without the team's star point guard dishing to him.
"Teams have been a little bit more aware [of him]," Harris said. "He's been more of the focal point of the offense. His catches aren't as deep as they were earlier in the year. It's probably both on myself and him -- it's kind of a partnership that way.
"We need to make more of a conscious effort that when he has deep position, we need to give him the ball regardless of if he has an open shot or not. He's our focal point in the paint. We need to first and foremost try to get him going and try and get the rest of the guys going."