P.J. Carlesimo looked down at the white piece of paper with six names typed in black and mumbled six words before his eyes seemed to expand to the size of manhole covers.
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"I have to read the injury report," the Nets' interim coach said before tip-off against the Wizards at Barclays Center last night.
After letting out a deep breath, Carlesimo knew it was all for the best, given the necessity to provide his key players some time to let their bumps and bruises heal. With nothing to play for -- The Nets already had locked up the Eastern Conference's fourth seed and guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- why risk it?
So the Nets held Deron Williams (left knee contusion), Joe Johnson (sore left heel), Reggie Evans (sore left shoulder), Brook Lopez (back contusion), Keith Bogans (tight lower back) and Jerry Stackhouse (stiff neck) out of their 106-101 victory over Washington. They're expected to get some court time in tomorrow's regular-season finale against the Pistons, which will serve as their last tuneup before taking on the Bulls or Hawks in the playoffs.
"We've got some guys that literally, if we had won [Sunday] and we still had a possibility of the third seed," Carlesimo said, "we've got some guys that we probably would not have played because it's a back-to-back. Deron is one of the ones. Between the last two games, Indiana and Toronto, he got hit about 19 times, and it might just have been prudent to not play him anyhow.
"It's really a combination of the back-to-backs, the playoffs [starting] on the weekend and the fact we can't go up or down right now. But the injuries are a little bit of a factor than [it's] just about resting them. Hopefully, some or more of these guys are going to be able to play on Wednesday."
The only true regular, other than Andray Blatche, to suit up and get extensive minutes was Gerald Wallace. In a bit of a surprise move, he returned after missing the previous two-plus games with a left foot contusion. It's obvious he still lacks confidence in his shot, though, as he tries to work himself into a rhythm and comfort zone.
"I thought he looked good," Carlesimo said. "He's upset with Timmy [Walsh, the athletic trainer] and I that he didn't play more, but the whole point was to get him out and to get a little cardio work and make sure that his foot was all right. Hopefully, he comes out of it well tomorrow and we can play him some more minutes on Wednesday. But it's exactly what Timmy wanted, and we were pleased."