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Thunder-Nets Preview


Thunder-Nets Preview
Yi Jianlian helped the New Jersey Nets finally build some momentum at the Izod Center. Now, they'll have to make do without him.

With Yi out and Devin Harris still ailing, the Nets look to win their fourth straight at home when they face the league-worst Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

New Jersey's run at the Izod Center comes after it lost 12 of its first 17 there. Yi had strong performances in the Nets' last two home games, averaging 21.0 points and 9.5 rebounds, but he'll miss three to four weeks after breaking the little finger on his right hand in the Nets' 104-102 defeat to Milwaukee on Friday night.

Yi, averaging 10.4 points and 6.2 rebounds on the season, had 16 points despite playing just 25 minutes against the Bucks. He said he hurt himself late in the third quarter on an attempted steal, hearing it pop as he tried to take the ball from Michael Redd.

"It's a tough time for him because he's been playing great basketball," Nets swingman Vince Carter said. "Everybody was looking for Yi to make sure he was all right and support him. ... It's unfortunate."

It's uncertain who will take Yi's place in the starting lineup. Jarvis Hayes, Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone are expected to get increased playing time.

New Jersey (18-19) has already been playing without Harris, who has been out three of the last four games due to a hamstring injury and is questionable for Monday. The emerging star point guard paces the Nets with 23.1 points and 6.6 assists per game.

Keyon Dooling has played well in Harris' absence. He had 15 points versus the Bucks, and is averaging 15.3 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 52.9 percent (9-for-17) from 3-point range in six games as a starter.

Oklahoma City (6-32) got just four points from starting point guard Earl Watson on Saturday night, but was able to beat Chicago 109-98 in overtime for a rare road win.

The Thunder are 2-16 on the road, where they are allowing 105.2 points per game.

"Every win feels good," said Oklahoma City swingman Kevin Durant, averaging 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. "No matter if you're the best team or the worst team in the league, every win feels good."

Durant had 28 points and 12 rebounds, but also had six turnovers after committing seven the previous night in a two-point loss to Houston.

"I was trying to thread the needle some," he said. "I've got to be stronger with the ball. I try to make it up in other areas, like defense."

Durant struggled in two games against New Jersey as a rookie last season, shooting 34.6 percent and averaging 13.5 points. The Nets went 2-0 against the Thunder franchise, shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 11, 2009

 

 
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