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DeMarre Carroll glad knee injury is only a sprain

Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets checks on

Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets checks on teammate DeMarre Carroll after an injury at the buzzer against the Celtics at Barclays Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It looked bad when DeMarre Carroll crashed to the floor on the last play of the Nets’ loss to the Celtics on Saturday and was helped to the locker room by his teammates after suffering an injury to his right knee, the same knee that cost him 50 games two seasons ago when he needed surgery. But Carroll was relieved to learn after an MRI examination that it’s only a sprain.

Carroll most likely won’t play against Detroit Wednesday night at Barclays Center, but he’s listed as day-to-day and conceivably might return during the Nets’ next road trip for games Friday in Atlanta and Saturday in Washington.

“Yeah, it’s the same knee, but totally different [injury],” Carroll said, recalling the injury he suffered while playing in Toronto. “That effect was something serious, but this is not. Luckily, I’ve been doing all my leg work, and all my stuff in the weight room is kind of helping me out.

“If I didn’t have that performance team to make me do all these leg exercises when I hate doing them after the game and before the game, it probably would’ve been something worse. Probably my knee wouldn’t have been able to sustain it, but it did. I’m happy about it.”

Joe Harris is expected to start at small forward for the second straight game, but Carroll’s veteran presence in the locker room still is important for a young team that lately has expressed mounting frustration regarding what some players perceived as a lack of respect from the officials in recent losses to Boston and Toronto. Carroll counseled a different approach.

“We’ve been looking for the refs to bail us out, but you can’t look for the refs to bail you out,” Carroll said. “When we stop focusing on the ref, maybe we’ll get our calls. Let them do their jobs, instead of jumping on them the whole time. Let’s try an opposite effect and see if it works.”

Players encouraged despite close losses

The Nets have played a franchise-record five straight games that have been decided by three or fewer points, going 2-3 in that span. Seeing their record fall to 15-25 was tough, but the Nets are trying to cling to the progress they have shown, especially on the defensive end.

“We were right there with Boston and Toronto, who are the two best teams in the East right now,” Harris said. “That’s encouraging for us. Obviously, a loss is a loss at the end of the day. It’s tough, and nobody cares a month from now that it was close. But I think it is encouraging just in the sense that we know we can compete with the best teams in this league, and I think we have reasons to be optimistic going forward.”

Referring to wins over Orlando and Minnesota, Harris added, “The two games before that I thought we did a great job. We’re starting to put stuff together, Guys are really starting to fit into what their roles are within the team. I think everybody can see, too, we’re an unselfish group.”

Allen Crabbe, who scored the basket that sent Monday’s game against the Celtics to overtime, was disappointed but upbeat about the Nets’ progress. “We’re competing with high-level teams and not even having our full squad intact. It just shows that our guys are prepared each and every night. It goes to our coaching staff and the organization.

“Despite the close losses, I think we still have really positive energy in the locker room. Guys are getting [healthier]. I feel like we’re really close. I feel like we can turn this thing around, and we’re going to be where we want to be.”

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