In the process of riding Marcus Thornton’s revenge game to a 104-89 win, the Nets lost two players to injury. Paul Pierce, who entered the game battling a nagging shoulder injury, left in the second minute after getting tangled underneath his own basket with Jason Thompson.
Andrei Kirilenko, who replaced Pierce in the lineup, subsequently exited with a tweaked ankle. The Nets entered the game already without Kevin Garnett’s services due to a back spasm.
Head coach Jason Kidd and the players took a “wait and see” approach to the prognosis.
“They’re both day-to-day, so we’ll see how they feel (on Monday),” said Kidd, who admitted Garnett from his report.
Kirilenko sounded less optimistic about his availability for the Nets’ showdown Monday night with the Toronto Raptors.
“Well, I stepped on Deron’s foot in the first quarter and felt a little tweak. I thought I could keep going, but obviously it just stopped me,” Kirilenko said. “I don’t think it’s a serious injury, but it’s still tweaked. I still want to take care of it; I assume it’s going to be a couple days.”
Injuries struck the Nets during the worst-possible time. Although they outlasted a 22-win Kings team, they cannot afford an injury pileup with a tough stretch looming. Kidd resorted to Thornton, who caught fire and poured in 27 points.
The Nets essentially lost their starting frontcourt in the win. With Garnett already absent, the next two stretch forwards went down with injury. The morning will play a substantial factor in their availability going forward.
“It’s tough. It’s kind of been the tale of our season,” small forward Joe Johnson said. “We’ve had some consistency throughout the months of January and February, but it’s just been tough. We’ve got to fight with what we’ve got.”
The Nets cannot afford to lose any more big men, considering they consistently lose the rebounding battle. Despite cruising to a win, the Nets yielded 28 points and 20 rebounds to Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings outrebounded the Nets, 53-27, and dominated the offensive glass, 20-1.
With the Raptors edging the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night, Brooklyn trails Toronto by four games. With Garnett, Pierce, and Kirilenko all question marks, the Raptors missed forward Patrick Patterson against the Timberwolves.
The Raptors hold the series edge, 2-1.