DeMarre Carroll keeps Brooklyn Nets' big picture in focus

Veteran forward looking forward to getting back on the court after knee sprain

Nine years in the NBA, with a share of highs and lows along the way, gives a player some perspective. An ability to see the big picture.

So DeMarre Carroll knows that things could have been worse, for him. And things can be better, for the Nets, after he missed Monday night’s wild 114-113 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center.

It was Brooklyn’s fifth straight game decided by three points or less. And in the final seconds of the previous one, Carroll had to be helped off the court after going to the floor under the basket in the scramble for a tying basket against the Celtics.

A look at the play on camera didn’t make him feel any better. Two years ago, mid-season knee surgery limited Carroll to 26 games with the Toronto Raptors. So he knows the frustration of being sidelined by injury. And this week he’s feeling the relief of knowing this knee injury was just a sprain.

The 6-foot-8 forward spent some time on the bike during Monday’s practice session and the status of his potential return is listed as day-to-day.

“If I didn’t have that performance team in there making me do all these leg exercises when I hate doing them after the game and before the game, probably would have been something worse,” said Carroll after the session at HSS Training Center. “Probably my knee wouldn’t have been able to sustain it. But it did. I’m excited. I’m happy about it. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, I’m not going to miss any leg exercises.”

So Carroll had to be a spectator for the Nets’ latest drama-filled game. After wins over Orlando and Minnesota by a combined four points, they’ve dropped the last two to Boston and Toronto – the top two teams in the Eastern Conference – by three points, the second in overtime to the Raptors.

It’s part of a solid stretch in which the Nets have split their last six, even with Caris LeVert sidelined for two games and Carroll and Nik Stauskas out against Toronto. They’ve played some of the league’s best defense over the last two weeks heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.

“It’s the NBA,” said Carroll. “It’s a thin line between losing and winning. And we’re realizing that. Understanding that. As a young team, you understand with those couple of possessions at the beginning of the game where you could have took off, or the possession at the end of the game where you could get this rebound or go after this ball or take this charge. We’re learning. We’ve been looking for the refs to bail us out, but you can’t look for the ref to bail us out. At the end of the day, we’re playing the game.

“So you’ve got to go out there and compete. We’ve got to try to limit those mistakes. I think we limit a couple of mistakes and we easily win that game, we easily win the Boston game. They’re two of the top teams in our conference, so we’re right there with them.”

Carroll has started all 36 games he’s played in his first year in Brooklyn, averaging 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He’s looking forward to getting back out on the court.

“It’s really up to the performance (team) and (coach) Kenny (Atkinson),” said Carroll. “They know me. I’ll come out there on one leg. Kenny wants me to be 101 percent and want me to be playing the type of basketball I was playing before I got hurt.”

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