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Kenny Atkinson likes his team’s competitive fire

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson reacts against

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Nets reached the halfway point of their first season under the new regime of general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson when they faced Toronto Tuesday night at Barclays Center. Their NBA-worst record (8-33) is not surprising given the low expectations, but it is disappointing they had lost 11 straight and 16 of 17.

An obvious problem for Atkinson is keeping up player morale, but he said, “Once that ball’s thrown up, we’re competing like crazy. That’s what the heck you play for is to win games. The good thing is we have a smart group and a group that understands culture. I think when they take a breath, [they say], ‘Let’s stick with this, let’s get our recovery, get in there the next day.’ In the moment, for all of us, it’s tough. I don’t mind that. That’s part of being competitive that you’re bothered by it, losing.”

Positive experience

Jeremy Lin (left hamstring strain) missed his 29th game of the season with his second hamstring injury, and Atkinson said there is no update on when Lin might start practicing. But the coach admitted it’s difficult for the Nets to evaluate their progress without Lin in the lineup.

“Having various injuries, it does skew [the results],” Atkinson said. “That’s the frustrating part. I’m like, ‘Man, I want to see this group together.’ That’s frustrating. It will be great when we have everybody healthy and can make a true evaluation.

“On the other hand, I also like seeing Isaiah Whitehead out there, Caris [LeVert], etc., etc. So, those guys are gaining valuable experience. That’s a positive.”

Acy may be re-signed

The Raptors game marked the final contest for forward Quincy Acy, whose 10-day contract expires Jan. 20. But the Nets will consider offering Acy a second 10-day deal. “Loved his energy, loved his pop, his aggressiveness, how competitive he is,” Atkinson said. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

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