ALBANY - Rondae Hollis-Jferson was in the midst of another educational experience, trying to navigate the treacherous rookie waters when an injury abruptly ended his afternoon.
Hollis-Jefferson sprained his right ankle with 11:01 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Nets' 97-95 preseason loss to the 76ers at Times Union Center on Saturday and never returned, adding yet another name to Brooklyn's laundry list of injured players. He was chasing down a loose ball and as he attempted to corral it and put on the brakes a step prior to reaching the baseline, he landed awkwardly.
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At least Hollis-Jefferson was able to walk off the court under his own power, albeit gingerly. The 20-year-old sounded confident he won't be out for long, even suggesting he'll be healthy enough to play in one of the Nets' final three preseason contests.
Still, he admitted he was nervous initially because the pain wasn't like anything he's experienced.
"I've hurt my ankle before, but it wasn't serious," Hollis-Jefferson said. "It hurts every time as soon as it happens. It's throbbing or whatever. But it felt a little different, so it was hard to get up. But I'm good."
Concerned about his well-being, Hollis-Jefferson's teammates circled around him on the far end of the court. With six others already banged up -- excluding rehabbing rookie Chris McCullough -- the last thing they wanted to see was someone else bitten by the nagging injury bug that's been hanging around the Nets the past 11 days or so.
"It was tough," Brook Lopez said. "I thought he had a good look. The pass was overthrown a little. You don't want to see that. Just obviously hoping for the best. He said he felt all right."
Hollis-Jefferson's play has been up and down this preseason and he still is struggling mightily offensively. He went 1-for-3 from the floor against the 76ers, getting one shot emphatically rejected by rookie big man Jahlil Okafor, and that came on the heels of him misfiring on all three shots he hoisted against the Pistons on Thursday.
Overall, Hollis-Jefferson is 3-for-12 from the floor in 56 minutes of preseason action. He has totaled nine rebounds and five steals, but he must elevate his offensive game quickly.
"Rondae, he's really, really working hard on improving his shot and he has the other attributes," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "He's learning that the league is a lot tougher -- even players that he hasn't heard of are people that he has to deal with on a nightly basis -- [and] that he has to come out and bring it. This is the pros now. It's not college and you can't dominate everybody just because of your status. You've got to go out there and prove it. But he's working hard."
Hollis-Jefferson joins Andrea Bargnani (hamstring), Bojan Bogdanovic (ankle), Thomas Robinson (wrist), Willie Reed (quad) and Markel Brown (oblique) on the Nets' list of walking wounded. He needs all the on-court time he can get and if he's sidelined for a while, it's going to delay his development. But he's keeping a positive mind frame.
"It's life. It's basketball," Hollis-Jefferson said. "Things happen. You just have to keep a focused mind, just keep a straight path and just keep working."