EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Hollins doesn’t read the good. He doesn’t read the bad. He definitely doesn’t read the ugly.
So when general manager Billy King told YES Network Tuesday that Hollins’ job was safe, the Nets coach could only offer a verbal shrug. After all, it was only a few days ago when newspapers and bloggers were saying that his job was in the hot seat.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I got killed by people because I said that I don’t worry about it, but how can I worry about it? No matter what Billy says — whether it’s positive or negative. No matter what the article says, no matter what you guys write each and every day, I still have to come and do my job.”
Despite the Nets’ 6-15 record, King refuted a report from a Russian news source that Hollins’ job was up for grabs.
“There was no truth to that,” he said. “I’ve talked to ownership and right now, Lionel is our coach and we’re working to turn this around.”
Hollins, though, said he couldn’t afford to listen to every report about his job, and couldn’t allow it to be a distraction.
“It doesn’t matter what the world is saying,” he said. “I try to be in a cocoon. I try to come in happy every day and prepared and ready to work and I try to get the players to do the same.”
At least in recent times, it’s working out OK.
The Nets outlasted the Houston Rockets, 110-105, on Tuesday, and with five of their next six at home, there is at least a glimmer of hope for improvement on the horizon. Life on the road wasn’t kind to them early this season, but the Nets, in the middle of a homestand, have now won five of their last six at Barclays. Thursday night, the Sixers, who sit comfortably in the Eastern Conference basement at 1-21, are as welcome of a sight as any.
“When you look at it in the short term and we’re five out of 11 after going 1-9, when you look at it in those terms, we’re on the uptick,” Hollins said. “We’re on the rise and we’re trying to get better and continue to rise. That’s all we can do.”
Bargnani set to return. Andrea Bargnani practiced for the first time Wednesday after missing four games with a tight left hamstring, and is questionable for the game against the Sixers. “I did everything with the team normally, so I felt pretty good,” he said. He added that though he feels ready to play, it will be up to the training staff. “I don’t have a clue how far away he is,” Hollins said. “He looked fine in practice.”
Hollis-Jefferson surgery successful. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson underwent surgery to help correct his fractured right ankle Wednesday morning and a return to the court is not expected for at least eight to 10 weeks, the team announced. The swingman, who sustained the break in practice Saturday, was in the midst of a successful rookie campaign before a CT scan Monday revealed the damage.
The procedure, which involved inserting two screws into Hollis-Jefferson’s ankle, was performed by at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan by Dr. Martin O’Malley. No other structural damage was found in the area, O’Malley said. Hollis-Jefferson was averaging 5.2 points, 6.1 rebounds (fourth among rookies) and 1.4 steals (first among rookies).