Less than a day removed from a brutal 142-134 triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls that moved the Nets to the brink of elimination, Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo didn't feel the need to overstate the importance of Monday's win-or-go-home Game 5.
"We just need to come in, play hard and get a win," Carlesimo said via conference call on Sunday afternoon in the wake of his team falling behind, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series. "Yesterday was a lot of disappointment, but that's probably not strong enough. An extremely tough way to lose, but when it's all said and done, that's what it was, it's a loss and having a day in between is good."
"We have to move away from the disappointment and channel it, whether it becomes anger, or resolve or whatever it is, we can't focus on Saturday, we gotta focus on Monday."
Down 2-1 in the series following an encouraging late-game charge in a 79-76 loss on Thursday evening, the Nets climbed out of an early hole on Saturday and looked like they would take this series back to Brooklyn tied 2-2. They led by 14 points with 3:45 to go in regulation, but a missed breakaway dunk by C.J. Watson with 3:16 to go swung the momentum in favor of the Bulls.
Nate Robinson scored 29 of his playoff career-high 34 points between the fourth quarter and three overtimes and the Bulls overcame big shot after big shot from Joe Johnson to move the Nets to the brink of the offseason.
The Bulls may lead this series, 3-1, but it could very easily be 3-1 in favor of the Nets or 2-2 at the very least. None of that matters now. The Nets have not put together a full effort since a 106-89 Game 1 win eight days ago.
If this inaugural season in Brooklyn, the Nets are going to have to find a way to close out a Bulls team it has dropped six of eight against including the regular season.
"If anything, we played better Game 3 and 4 than we did in Game 2," Carlesimo said. "I just think it's playing 48 minutes and closing the deal and we have not done that. It's 3-1, that's our fault and we have to deal with it. The mindset will be totally different tomorrow night."
The Nets did not practice on Sunday as all five starters played at least 48 of the 63 minutes on Saturday. Among those five starters, three went at least 50 minutes with Deron Williams leading the way at 57 minutes.
Carlesimo noted that guys are dinged up, everybody is sore and that guys are not going to be 100 percent, but he would not use that as an excuse. Among those to keep an eye on at shootaround Monday morning is Johnson, who has been battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
The six-time All-Star shooting guard took a cortisone shot before Game 3, in which he went 41 minutes. Johnson came out of that heavy playing time unscathed and went another 48 minutes on Saturday.
The Bulls aren't likely to be any less worn down, having had three starters go at least 50 minutes with point guard Kirk Hinrich topping the list at 59 minutes.
On a minutes restriction of 20-25 minutes while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, All-Star center Joakim Noah gave the Bulls 40 minutes, 15 points and 13 rebounds in the win.
Presumed doubtful last week to even suit up for this series, the 6-foot-11 Noah has been big for the Bulls, registering two double-doubles in the last three games while providing more of an interior presence on the defensive end for head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA