Hollins hopes to rebound from 0-2 for third time

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Only three men have ever rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series as both a player and a coach.

Lionel Hollins is one of them. Bill Russell (1969 player/coach) and Scott Brooks (1994 player, 2012 coach) are the others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

When Hollins played point guard, his Portland Trail Blazers lost the first two games of the 1977 NBA Finals to the Philadelphia 76ers before coming back and winning four straight to capture the championship.

Thirty-six years later, Hollins coached a Memphis Grizzlies team that dropped the first two games of their first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers only to advance in six.

Hollins’ Brooklyn Nets now face an 0-2 deficit heading into Saturday’s Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Can he pull it off a third time?

“They’re all difficult,” Hollins said. “As a player, we got whooped twice [the Blazers lost the first two games by a combined 24 points]. But we had a big fight in Philly, and that kinda turned things mentally. But we were still afraid of them when we went home [to Portland] because of the way they had beaten us. But coach [Jack Ramsay] just said, ‘We have to stick with what we’re doing. We just have to do it better.’

“As a coach, we felt like we had been in the series with the Clippers the year before -- and it went seven games -- and we didn’t feel like they were better than us. We almost got a win in the second game [a 93-91 loss]. It was a different scenario, and we believed in ourselves and we came back and beat them twice, and then went down there and beat them.

“So they were different scenarios, but it’s difficult any way you look at it to be down 0-2. It’s better to be down 0-2 and going home than down 0-2 going on the road. It’s about us doing what we need to do, and that’s holding serve because they held serve in Atlanta.”

Maybe it’s best the Nets heed Ramsay’s advice. After all, they were right there in Games 1 and 2, losing by seven and five, respectively.

“I think we do a good job of guarding the first action of their offense, but after that we gotta watch for the backdoors and some other things that have been hurting us,” Joe Johnson said. “They’re just constantly moving, and you have a tendency to start watching and looking at the ball when your man may be a little bit behind you.”

No team has ever come back to win a series after going down 3-0 in 110 chances, according to whowins.com. Clearly, the Nets know how important Game 3 is.

Notes: Thaddeus Young apologized to his teammates after a poor Game 2 in which he scored two points on 1-for-7 shooting. “’I’m sorry. I didn’t give you guys anything tonight. I gotta be better,’” Young said he told them. His teammates’ response: “’It’s not just you. It’s all of us. We’re a team.’” Hollins said Young needs to make the Hawks respect his perimeter shot so he can eventually be effective inside. ... Hollins is sticking with Bojan Bogdanovic at shooting guard in the starting five for Game 3. ... Mirza Teletovic doesn’t know the plays since he was out for three months with blood clots, so Hollins said the package with the floor-spacing forward on the floor is extremely limited. ... A couple of mistakes were made by the officials in the final 30 seconds of Game 2. Read them here.