CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fighting for a playoff spot wasn’t a consideration during Kenny Atkinson’s first two seasons coaching the Nets, and he’s still in the one-game-at-a-time mode even though the Nets went into Friday night’s contest against the Hornets just half a game behind the Hornets and Miami Heat for the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference.
Asked if going head to head with an opponent fighting for the same playoff position added some intensity, Atkinson said: “I think it’s too early for us to be thinking that way. We have so much basketball left to play. Quite honestly, you’re not even looking at the standings, you’re so focused on game by game. If this is late March or early April, I think it’ll be a little different deal.”
Interestingly, Hornets coach James Borrego acknowledged the standings spiced up the home-and-home set with the Nets that concluded at Spectrum Center.
“I think it adds a little bit,” Borrego said. “Both teams are aware of the situation. We’re all looking at the standings. It’s nothing you can get consumed by. Maybe it adds a little bit of fuel tonight to what’s going to transpire. I think you saw two evenly matched teams that understand the circumstances right now. But they count all 82.”
Short rotation in 2OT win
Atkinson used only nine players in Wednesday’s double-overtime victory over the Hornets at Barclays Center and did not substitute in either overtime for the finishing five of Jared Dudley (who played 21:29 of the final 22 minutes, including the fourth quarter), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (20:16), Rodions Kurucs (20:01), Spencer Dinwiddie (19:46) and Joe Harris (17:35).
“We definitely have some guys in the bullpen ready to go if we look a little fatigued,” Atkinson said. “That’s definitely in the back of my mind and understanding we have Milwaukee tomorrow on an early back-to-back.”
Crabbe inches closer
Allen Crabbe (sore right knee) took part in a five-on-five workout earlier Friday and will be re-evaluated Saturday in Milwaukee … All-time leading Nets scorer Brook Lopez has started all 34 games for the Bucks and is averaging 11.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.91 blocks and shooting 35.5 percent from three-point range.