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YI JOINS NETS' WOUNDED Yi Jianlian yesterday joined the most popular Nets locale, the extended-time infirmary, after an MRI on his right knee confirmed he suffered a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL that will sideline him for several weeks.

So if you're keeping score at home, that's five disabled players, four games, three significant injuries.

And, of course, zero victories.

"Everyone understands what we're up against. We know what people were saying before the season started," said coach Lawrence Frank, whose banged up gang seeks to avert an 0-5 start (good luck) tonight when they entertain the Denver Nuggets in the Meadowlands. "Now some of our players are injured and yet our guys are still going out there to win. You can't fault the effort."

The results are another matter. The Nets lost, 79-68, in Charlotte Monday - when Yi went down in the third quarter - to the Bobcats, last in the league in scoring and shooting.

With powerful Denver coming in, the Nets will be without Devin Harris (groin), Jarvis Hayes (hamstring) and Yi, all of whom were injured since the season began. Keyon Dooling (hip rehab) and Tony Battie (knee) were shelved before the season started. So the Nets can suit 10 available bodies.

The Nets figure to start Eduardo Najera, a former Nugget, in place of Yi, with Bobby Simmons the backup. Najera was hampered throughout preseason when he tried to respond from sports hernia surgery. That led to a back issue, which led to time off. Najera did not play in Charlotte, where Gerald Wallace crushed the Nets with 24 points, 20 rebounds and overwhelming grit.

Najera wants to bring more toughness up front. Najera, who did not play, admitted surprise that no one tried to at least administer a hard foul on Wallace, the same way the Wizards slammed Chris Douglas-Roberts in Washington.

"We still have to figure out small things like that. When there's one guy hurting us, we've got to stop him one way or another," said Najera, who has played in two of the four games. "Sometimes, a hard foul is good. They did it to us in Washington and we should have that same rule. If you're coming at me to the rim, you better be prepared to take the consequences.

"That's the style of the NBA, the philosophy. When a player is doing that, you've got to get him out of his comfort zone. He needs to know it's not going to be easy and he better watch out."

Najera feels some of it is simply the youth and personalities of the Nets - "We're such nice guys, sometimes we back away," he observed.

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Added: November 5, 2009


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