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Lionel Hollins shakes off rumors he's under pressure

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins calls to

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins calls to his players during the first half of an NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas. Credit: AP / Eric Gay

ATLANTA - Lionel Hollins knows how things work in this business, so he's never surprised when the outside noise starts picking up around a team that's in a tailspin like the Nets.

Like getting stuck in rush-hour traffic in this southern city, it's inevitable. And there's only one way to put a halt to all the chatter: win.

"It's part of the game,'' the Nets coach said before Tuesday night's matchup against the Hawks at Philips Arena. "It's part of the game. People talk about us losing . . . When you look at the media's approach, it's 'Who's going to be the good players on this team?' And then if the team doesn't do so well, it's 'Who's to blame?'

"You've gone through all the stories on who can't take the blame or who should be to blame. So it must be the coach, and that's part of this business. Does it bother me when I read it? If I read it, it don't bother me.''

Questions about Hollins' job performance in his first season in Brooklyn were raised in an ESPN.com report this week. The story suggested Nets' brass was so displeased with the team's struggles that they are "evaluating'' Hollins as well as the roster.

The Nets had dropped 10 of their last 12 games entering Wednesday night's game against the streaking Hawks, winners of 16 in a row. The Nets were pounded in their previous two games, getting rocked by a combined 74 points.

But Hollins, who signed a four-year deal during the summer, sure doesn't sound like someone who's all that worried that the team's hierarchy supposedly is taking notes on how he's approaching things.

"Why wouldn't the team be evaluating me?'' Hollins said. "Now if you are talking about evaluating me like I'm doing something bad and all that . . . Whoever wrote the article, it's his opinion, and all I can do is coach. That's all I can do.''

The Nets' silver lining? All it takes is a peek at the Eastern Conference standings. Despite their nosedive this month, in which they are 3-10, the Nets (18-26) were only a half-game behind the Hornets for the eighth and final playoff spot. But Charlotte is going to be without Kemba Walker for at least six weeks, and the two teams on the Nets' heels -- the Celtics and the Pistons -- aren't exactly scaring the opposition at the moment, either. Detroit was a big threat and was playing as well as any team in the league but lost Brandon Jennings for the season over the weekend.

So as the Nets limp toward the All-Star break, embarking on their final six games before getting about a week off, they still have hope.

"If we can stay in the playoff [hunt] and get in the playoffs, that would be great,'' Hollins said. "That's what we are striving for. It's not like, as I said when we were playing decent, we were running away from everybody. And now that we are not playing well, they are not running away from us .

"It's not like we lose six in a row and all of the sudden you are 12 games out of the eighth spot. We are still right there, and all those teams are having the same ups and downs as we are.

"We've just got to find a way to get it back, and can we get it back? I don't know.''

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