EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — At a season-worst 11 games under .500 (7-18) going into Friday night’s game in Indianapolis, the Nets still believe there is enough time to turn things around and chase a playoff spot.
“There’s a lot of basketball left and the margin hasn’t gotten stretched too far to where it’s unfathomable,’’ point guard Jarrett Jack said. “And with the parity so much in the Eastern Conference, even though it’s gotten more competitive, the gap is still manageable, so it just comes with us being able to string some games together and playing some consistent basketball. It’s difficult. There’s a lot that goes into it, but we’re very capable.’’
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For a little while, at least, they are going to have to prove that without backup point guard Shane Larkin, who suffered a concussion at Tuesday’s practice. Until Larkin returns, Lionel Hollins will have to rely on Donald Sloan and Markel Brown to provide effective minutes in relief of Jack. In Wednesday’s 104-98 loss to Miami, Sloan got the bulk of the duty and had five points and three assists in 12 minutes.
“If I can get away playing Markel without pressure, and get in our offense, I probably would, because Donald hasn’t played that much,’’ Hollins said. “But Donald was good last night. There’s nothing wrong with how he played. So I don’t know how it’ll go. In that situation, I hate putting myself in a box and say, ‘I’m going to do this,’ and ‘I’ve got to do that.’ I just wait and see what’s necessary.’’
Sloan, 27, signed with the Nets in August after two seasons with the Pacers. He’s appeared in seven games, averaging 1.3 points. Last season, he started 21 games because of injuries, playing well and helping Indiana make the playoffs. That makes Friday’s game something of a homecoming for the 6-3, 205-pounder. “Whenever you’re playing against the team you played for,’’ he said, “you always want to try to beat them especially.’’
Sloan said he won’t worry about trying to do too much while he has this opportunity to get some regular playing time. He said he feels as if he established himself last season and all he has to do now is play his game.
“You know, they’re going to like it or they’re not going to like it,’’ he said, “and I’ll be out there, or I won’t be out there.’’
Notes & quotes: Wayne Ellington (strained left shoulder) and Thomas Robinson (illness) did not practice and are questionable for Friday night. Sergey Karasev (left ankle) did not practice and is listed as out . . . Hollins and the team went over the end-of-game mixup Wednesday, when the Nets did not foul even though he wanted them to. Thaddeus Young missed a shot with 36.9 seconds left and the Nets down 103-98. “In that situation, you score and you play,’’ Hollins said. “You don’t score, you’ve got to foul again and we can extend the game.’’