Sprung: Small Ball Leading Nets’ January Resurgence

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Joe JohnsonThe Brooklyn Nets wanted to improve on both sides of the ball after ending 2013 with a disappointing 10-21 record.

Unlike most people’s new year’s resolutions, they’ve stuck to it.

With All-Star center Brook Lopez out for the season, head coach Jason Kidd thought going with a smaller starting lineup would benefit the team going forward and afford the team versatility in many respects.

It worked. Big time.

Sprung: Nets face yet another identity crisis without Lopez

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What are the Brooklyn Nets right now, other than a pathetic underachieving ballclub?

brook-lopezBrook Lopez is not coming back this season after breaking his foot, and the Nets dropped to 2-8 without him after Monday’s 103-86 loss to Indiana. Brooklyn is 9-18, a .333 winning percentage.

“It’s certainly a big setback, he’s a great player,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “One of the best centers in the league, so it’s obviously very difficult to replace what he gives on both ends.”

What’s worse than the team’s best player being lost for the season with no viable replacement? The team’s rookie coach thinks his players have grown content with losing games.

“It’s gotten very close to just accepting losing,” Jason Kidd said. “Getting comfortable with losing. And we’ve got to make a stand with that, because when things get tough, do we give in? And most of the time right now we do.”

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Bernucca: Title contention a bridge too far for troubled Knicks, Nets

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brooklyn bridgeThe Brooklyn Bridge is one of the great landmarks of our country.

And right now, it connects the home boroughs of perhaps the NBA’s two most disappointing teams this season.

Remember all the back-and-forth this summer between members of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets? Jason Kidd retired from the Knicks to coach the Nets. Raymond Felton questioned his Knicks being ranked below the Nets. Paul Pierce said it was time for the Nets to start running the city. J.R. Smith called Pierce “bitter” about having to leave Boston.

All fun stuff to help fuel a rivalry that already had a pretty good fire raging over which was the best team in New York.

Now? Given the way the Knicks and Nets have started the season, the best team in New York might be the Gauchos.

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Scotto: Williams Holds Keys to Brooklyn’s Title Hopes

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It’s now or never for Deron Williams to prove he is worthy of being the $100 million face of the Brooklyn Nets.220px-Deron_Williams_Team_USA_(cropped)

Is Williams still an elite point guard? Is he a winner?

Or is he the reason his coaches are sent packing and his teams don’t quite measure up?

Despite a blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who have championship rings and 25 combined All-Star selections, it is Williams who holds the key to Brooklyn’s title hopes.

Consider this: Brooklyn is 28-4 when scoring over 100 points dating to last season. The winning formula has been established. The Nets win when Williams pushes the tempo as the floor general.

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Five Things To Watch: Brooklyn Nets

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This summer, the Brooklyn Nets transformed themselves from pretenders to contenders. However, the Prokhorovtransformation came at a steep price.

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov has the NBA’s only nine-figure team payroll, which translates to an $87 million luxury tax bill. (He can afford it. He is the NBA’s George Steinbrenner).

Nets GM Billy King also mortgaged the future by trading first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 with the right to swap first-round picks in 2017 as part of a trade with Boston to acquire aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

Despite having arguably the most talented roster, if the Nets can’t answer these five questions below, they can forget about winning a title this season. Or as they say in my borough, Brooklyn, “fuhgeddaboudit!”

Here are the five questions facing the Nets.

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