CHICAGO -- With a mountain now in front of them, the Brooklyn Nets will take the climb one boulder and one ledge at a time.
Saturday's collapse to the Chicago Bulls -- Brooklyn squandered a 14-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in regulation and lost 142-134 in triple OT -- left the Nets one defeat from elimination in the first round of the playoffs.
A three-game win streak is now required to see another round in these playoffs, so the Nets have chosen to micromanage the problem.
"We're not looking ahead to no Game 6 or Game 7, or anything like that. We're just looking forward to Monday," Reggie Evans said about Game 5 at Barclays Center. "We'll do our best, come back home, the crowd should be very excited to have us back. We'll do a good job and get us a win."
The Nets, though, will carry plenty of baggage into the win-or-go-home contest and none of it rested in the cargo hold on the flight home from the Windy City. Missed shots, bad defense and yet another failure to play from beginning to end will haunt them.
"We have to play 48 minutes," Gerald Wallace said. "We haven't played 48 minutes since the first game. We come out, start the game on a run, lose focus. Or down at the end [of the game] we lose focus on a possession here, a possession there and they get a big rebound or make a big shot.
"It kind of changes the momentum of the game I think our big thing is we have to have mental focus for 24 seconds during the shot clock and 48 minutes during the game."
Game 4 turned into a case of mistaken identity as the smash-mouth Bulls went up-tempo. The Nets weathered the storm and when a victory looked all but assured, the veteran Bulls found a second, or perhaps third wind. All the while, the Nets invented new and unique ways to sabotage themselves.
"We just have to focus [on Monday] and not talk about the things we could have done," head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We had a breakaway layup that would have made the lead 16. We missed a bunch of free throws, we made a bad foul [on a 3-point attempt], had trouble getting the ball inbounds."
"In regulation there were so many ebbs and flows to the game," Carlesimo said. "We were behind almost the whole first half. It was both teams just kind of slugging at each other. It went back and forth. In one of the overtimes we got down five or six and came back. When it is all said and done, we did not do enough things to win. We have to get a win Monday and bring it back here."
As Williams, 28, struggled just to put on his dress shirt after the game, moving like somebody three times his age, he was asked if the biggest obstacle Monday will be mental or physical.
"Both," he said.