With a thin roster, the Nets battle to hold on (37214)

The Nets can’t afford to make many glaring mistakes these days.

With a thin roster and no real presence in the middle, the Nets need to play as mistake-free as possible. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough talent on the roster to grant that wish, and that was proven in Monday’s 106-101 loss to Atlanta.

The good news is the Nets are playing better basketball and actually outscored the Hawks in the final three quarters. The bad news is they got off to such a bad start it was just too tall of an order to come back. But like we stated earlier this season, this will be a different Nets team in the coming months. Until then, however, the Nets need to stress the fundamentals.

“That’s been kind of an epidemic for us this year, and we have to do a better job of [addressing] it,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said of the slow starts.

It was the same story against the Heat last Saturday as the Nets fell behind 31-18 in the first quarter and played catchup the rest of the way. Johnson still credited his team for staying in it against the Hawks, despite falling behind 13 points after the first quarter.

“But again, our guys battled,” Johnson added.

Battling just won’t be enough to get it done right now. The roster is woefully thin, as DeShawn Stevenson, Mehmet Okur and Damion James didn’t play on Monday night, and Brook Lopez isn’t expected back until sometime next month.

Stevenson and Okur were late acquisitions to give the Nets some depth. Making matters worse is that the team now begins a four-game West Coast swing, which started in Denver on Wednesday night.

The best the Nets can do right now is continue to accentuate the positives, which includes the play of rookie Marshon Brooks, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets. Brooks is averaging 14.4 points through the Nets’ first 10 games. That may not be much for the Nets to hang their hats on, but it will have to do for now.