Nets face tough test against Grizzlies

10:47 AM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Brooklyn Nets have won three games in a row, are just a game behind the New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead and face a crucial road test Friday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies.

Thanks to great play under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo (12-2), the Nets have vaulted into third place in the Eastern Conference. They trail top seed and defending champion Miami Heat by only 2 1/2 games.

So, one of the Nets stars, either guards Deron Williams or Joe Johnson, or center Brook Lopez, would have to be named as a reserve to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, right?


All three were snubbed when the announcement was made Thursday night. Granted, Williams and Johnson have both had better seasons in their All-Star careers, but both East guards are from losing teams.

And Lopez may have had the biggest gripe of all. He was passed over in favor of Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and Chris Bosh of the Heat. Lopez is out- scoring both and has more blocked shots than either. He's even out-rebounding Bosh.

The total snubbing of the Nets seemed unlikely, but Carlesimo already had a positive take if it happened.

"I'd be disappointed (if none of our players made it), but I'd also be happy that they got rest instead of having to go to Houston and play," Carlesimo told the New York Daily News Thursday before the news broke.

The Nets are on the third game of a four-game road trip and are 2-0 thanks to victories against the New York Knicks on Monday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

A victory on Friday would be the Nets' 11th this month and it would make this group the first in franchise history to win 11 games in a month twice. Brooklyn won 11 games in November.

The Grizzlies got an All-Star nod in the form of Zach Randolph. After his selection in 2010, he became the first player to make multiple All-Star appearances in a Grizzlies uniform.

"It is truly an honor to be named by the NBA's coaches to the 2013 Western Conference All-Star team," said Randolph, who leads the NBA in double-doubles with 27. "I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to playing with the best players in the world."

Memphis has won three of its last four games, including a 106-93 decision over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. That was the first game the Grizzlies played since a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that sent two key bench players, Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington, packing.

The reserves actually played well on Wednesday against the Lakers. The Grizzlies bench is the second-worst scoring unit in the league, but totaled 43 points Wednesday.

"You never know how a team is going to react in a situation like it is," said coach Lionel Hollins. "We're down a man and everybody has to go in and contribute. Here forward, everybody's got to go in and contribute. Everybody has to be focused and everybody has to be committed and ready to do their job every night."

The Grizzlies won last season's only meeting, a 105-100 decision on the road. The Nets have won three of their last five in Memphis.

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