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Blazers look to bounce back vs. wounded Nets

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Brooklyn Nets did not figure to be a playoff team anyway when the regular season began.

Then injuries started happening.

First there was the season-ending patella tendon injury to starting point guard Jeremy Lin -- in the opener at Indiana.

Lately, it's been the Nets' big men who have gone down -- forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (hip) and Trevor Booker (back), as well as their best rim-protector, rookie center Jarrett Allen (foot). All three sat out Brooklyn's 112-104 loss at Denver on Tuesday night.

Hollis-Jefferson is expected back but Booker and Allen remain questionable when the Nets (4-7) visit Moda Center to take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Coach Kenny Atkinson even used forward Jacob Wiley, on a two-way contract, for 21 minutes at Denver.

"It's a challenge for continuity, which is the big thing, especially with a new team -- just getting your rhythm," Atkinson told Newsday. "You want the same guys playing together. We're mixing and matching right now."
DeMarre Carroll has moved from starting small forward to starting power forward.

"We have a lot of guys out," Carroll said. "You're missing your '4' men, and Quincy (Acy) is just getting back. It's a challenge for us, but we have to keep fighting our way out of it."

Center Tyler Zeller came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points against Denver.

"It's just uncomfortable," Zeller said. "Changing lineups all the time makes it very difficult."

Former Trail Blazer Allen Crabbe will make his first appearance at Moda Center since his offseason trade to Brooklyn. Crabbe had a poor shooting game against the Nuggets, going 1 for 8 from the field -- and 1 for 7 from 3-point range -- while scoring three points in 19 minutes as the Nets' starting shooting guard against Denver. Crabbe is averaging 11.1 points on 37.5 percent shooting -- but a solid 37.1 percent from behind the arc -- in 24.7 minutes.

Portland (6-5) will look to get back onto the winning track Friday after a down-to-the-wire 98-97 loss at home Tuesday night to Memphis. CJ McCollum -- who had poured in a season-high 36 points -- missed an open 17-foot jump shot in the closing seconds that could have won it for the Blazers.

The best sign for the Blazers was the contribution from reserve point guard Shabazz Napier, who came in with DNP/CDs (did not play/coach's decision) in four of the previous five games. Napier, who had totaled 18 points in 46 minutes going in, scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, made his only 3-point attempt and had only one turnover in his 20 minutes off the bench.

"(The Grizzlies') second unit plays a small lineup," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "I thought it was a chance for us to match that. We needed a little bit of a spark. I really like Shabazz. It's unfortunate he hasn't been able to get a lot of time so far. It was a chance to get him on the court."

Napier wasn't satisfied with his performance.

"Honestly, I didn't think I played that well," he said. "I felt out of rhythm. There were some shots I should have taken that I didn't take. I was trying to do what I could to spark us, but I felt like overall, I could have played better."

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