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Brooklyn Nets remain upbeat amid losses piling up

Brook Lopez, #11, of the Brooklyn Nets reacts

Brook Lopez, #11, of the Brooklyn Nets reacts after a three-point basket in the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

SAN FRANCISCO — The 9-49 Nets are three losses away from matching their franchise-worst 19-game losing streak, and they need to win four of their final 26 games to surpass the franchise-worst record of 12-70 set in the 2009-10 season. But if losing 27 of their past 28 games is eating at the Nets, it’s hard to tell by their upbeat demeanor or by the way they have continued to compete.

Franchise center Brook Lopez lived through that 2009-10 season, which began with 18 straight losses to reach 19 in a row, counting the final game of the previous season. “This has been a completely different mindset and attitude,” he said after practice yesterday. “It’s completely night and day from that situation previously.

“We have such positive guys who come in and really, truly put their work in, giving it their all. We’re leaving it on the floor. It’s a completely different situation. I think we’re happy that guys aren’t quitting. You can definitely see there’s no quit in us.”

Lopez said the Nets had a “physical, aggressive” practice in which they focused on correcting some of their defensive mistakes before facing the Kings tomorrow night in Sacramento. His sense of humor clearly still is intact because he wore Stanford gear to practice at Cal Berkeley, where Nets general manager Sean Marks went to school, and they engaged in some playful banter.

Explaining his ability to maintain a positive attitude, Lopez said, “It’s a lot easier to look at where we are right now because of the work we’ve put in and the attitude we have and the kind of group we have going to war with them every night. I think we have been growing.”

Lopez said he wasn’t even aware the Nets had lost 27 of 28 until a reporter brought it up. Like everyone in the organization from Marks on down, the Nets are focused on the process rather than the record.

“Obviously, we want to go out there and win, but I think we’ve been putting ourselves in a great position for the most part,” Lopez said. “We’re always giving ourselves a chance. We’re within two or three in the last few minutes, and it’s just little mental mistakes. I don’t know if that has to do with our youth.”

Asked if the results begin to matter more than the process as the loss total grows, Kenny Atkinson said, “No, no, we can’t think that way. It’s not in my mentality as a coach, and as an organization, we’re measuring progress in a process-oriented way and we’re going to continue to do that. That being said, we’d love to push through the ceiling and get one. I think it would help the process.”

Atkinson admitted it hurts to look at the record and said he’s losing sleep over it, but he added, “I do get feedback from the people I trust, whether it’s Sean or opposing coaches who have been complimentary. They say, ‘You’re doing a lot of good things. Stay with it.’ Really, I’m overwhelmed by the support. But yeah, living with it every day and every night when you go to bed ... I’m not napping like I used to. You’re just thinking.”

Notes & quotes: The Nets waived Luis Scola at Scola’s request, Atkinson said, because he wanted to play more and knew he wouldn’t have that opportunity . . . Quincy Acy (ankle) returned to practice . . . Jeremy Lin has played 14.5 minutes per game in his first two games back from injury, but Atkinson hopes to begin ramping that figure up to 30 to 32 minutes eventually.

New York Sports