Many twists and turns in Nets' season

Kris Humphries (43), Deron Williams (8), Brook Lopez Kris Humphries (43), Deron Williams (8), Brook Lopez (11) and Keith Bogans (10) celebrate against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of a game in Phoenix. (March 24, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Good thing the Nets were tailed by a video crew for the better part of their inaugural campaign in Brooklyn.

Without the actual footage, some people might not believe the twists and turns the Nets navigated on their way to earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, earning home-court advantage in the quarterfinal series that tips off Saturday night against the fifth-seeded Bulls.

After an 11-4 start that earned Avery Johnson coach of the month honors, he was fired less than 30 days later, taking the hit after the Nets dropped 10 of 13 games.

They were drubbed by 31 in San Antonio, then collected arguably their most impressive road victory of the season two days later by rolling the Thunder.

Deron Williams underwent an amazing in-season transition, going from looking like an average player to putting together an MVP-type run since the All-Star break.

That's just a sampling. It's enough to make the head spin.

"A lot of ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs,'' Reggie Evans said. "It shows a lot that we can fight through adversity, injuries, losses, through coaching changes. Man, just a lot of ups and downs. But like I said, that just shows us veterans sticking together and overcoming these hurdles that came our way.

"So it's definitely something to be proud of, knowing what the situation was for this team last year.''

In ending their franchise-high- tying five-season playoff drought, the Nets achieved plenty of things to give them some confidence leading into this expected lengthy series with the gritty Bulls. Their 49 wins -- their most since 2005-06 -- tied for the second-most in franchise history.

Stars of NBATV's "The Association,'' the Nets also are 35-19 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, establishing the best mark for a Nets coach in franchise history.

"It was actually pretty impressive and I think they've done a lot of things very, very well,'' Carlesimo said. "So I think they should feel good about what we've accomplished to this point. We have a number of things that the players should be very, very proud of with the way they played in the regular season. But for all practical purposes, that's behind us now and we are all judged on the playoffs.

"I don't think we will be satisfied with making the playoffs or being the home team in the playoffs.''

Not with the great expectations of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who's all about winning. He said early in the season that a berth in the conference finals would constitute a successful season, and who knows what he'll do should the Nets fall short of his expectations.

If the Nets don't put up a good enough fight, it could prompt Prokhorov to shake things up in the front office, something the players might feel directly responsible for -- just as they did when Prokhorov gave general manager Billy King the order to fire Johnson.

"We want to win,'' Williams said. "We definitely want to win and want to make sure that upper management feels like everybody is doing a good job. So I guess how far we go in the playoffs will determine that a little bit.''

Andray Blatche, never one to lack confidence, thinks the Nets are poised for a lengthy run.

"We are going to be great,'' he said. "I think we can be great. We've just got to get it together. Everybody has the same thing in mind in just winning and we'll be a great team.''

It'll take 16 wins to prove they're truly great, but they have to reach four first.

"I think any of the first-round series right now are going to be wars,'' Carlesimo said. "You've got to play well and you've got to find a way to win four games. We've got to find a way to win four more.''

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