Most teams’ goals are to make the playoffs, win their division and play for the championship. The Nets have had to alter theirs, but they’re closer to achieving their three priorities than most teams.
The Nets wanted to have a winning streak before the season ended, record victory No. 9 and of course No. 10.
Two down, one to go –- and the third could happen Saturday in Chicago. Could.
A rousing second-half performance, led by Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian, carried the Nets back from 13 down and lifted them to their second consecutive victory. They beat the Pistons, 118-110, Friday night for win No. 9.
“How about that?” Keyon Dooling said. “We go on our first win streak of the season.”
“We feel we can get more games,” Devin Harris said. “It’s good to win two in a row. We want to expand on that.”
One more win will be like the equivalent of clinching a playoff berth in a bizarre way.
10 wins means the Nets won’t be the worst team in NBA history and that distinction will remain in the hands of its rightful owner, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-63. The Nets have 10 games to get that one victory.
As shocking as this season has been, it would be stunning if the Nets don’t win at least one more game. They have a chance at three or four if everything breaks well. They don’t want to win too many, though.
Minnesota has lost 15 games in a row and has just five more wins than the Nets. After all they’ve been through this season, if the Nets don’t finish with the worst record and have the best chance at John Wall, it would be incredible, yet typical of this franchise.
Odds are the Nets are in great shape to be the worst team.
As you would expect, the Nets tried to downplay their achievement after this win, made possible by monster games from Lopez and Yi. They combined to score 68 points, 43 of them in the second half, to lead the Nets over a Detroit team that takes too many bad shots.
For most teams, what the Nets did last night was no big deal. It’s hard to go an entire season without two consecutive wins, hard to win only nine of 82 games. Obviously neither has happened that often. The Nets avoided one and are close to avoiding the other.
The Nets tried to act like they’ve been there before, although Courtney Lee showed his exuberance and was even singing, 'We need one more,' as reporters filed out of the locker room. Yet as much as they were mostly nonchalant, you could feel the sense of relief in the Nets’ locker room, more so than after they beat the Kings on Wednesday to start this streak.
Nine means the worst the Nets can do is share the mark. But they’re not going to do that. They’ll get to double-digits.
“We really want to win some more games,” Yi said. “But we have to play hard every single game.
“It's good to see our work is paying off,” Lopez said. “And we’re going to keep working. The way we’re playing, it’s great that we play in Chicago [tonight]. Maybe we can get another one.”
Three in a row would mean the Nets accomplished all of their revised late-season goals.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)