By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
There's no place like home.
But for the Brooklyn Nets, the path to respectability as a legitimate NBA title contender has been built away from the friendly confines of the state-of-the-art Barclays Center.
After hosting Dallas on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues on Friday, the Nets (34-24) will shoot for their fourth consecutive road win Saturday night in Chicago, hoping to bolster one of the Eastern Conference's more impressive marks away from home.
At 14-12, Brooklyn ranks first in the Atlantic Division in road triumphs and winning percentage (.538), and is one of only nine teams on the entire NBA circuit with a better than .500 record away from its home court.
Since suffering an 89-74 loss at Washington on Feb. 8, the Nets have snapped a five-game losing streak in Indiana (Feb. 11), a six-game slide in Milwaukee (Feb. 20) and posted their first win in five visits to New Orleans Tuesday night behind Deron Williams' 33-point, eight-assist effort.
Brooklyn, which boasts a more-than-respectable 20-12 home ledger entering Friday's showdown with Mark Cuban's Mavericks, had better resume its road warrior mentality if it hopes to continue reeling in the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic standings.
Between March 18 and April 3, the Nets will play eight consecutive road contests -- a challenging stretch that includes six games against Western Conference opponents spanning six states and three time zones over 11 grueling days.
After hosting New Orleans on March 12, Brooklyn will play just one home game (March 17 vs. Atlanta) in the following 22 days.
The daunting road sked could give the team a serious case of "Net lag", especially if it still hopes to host a first-round playoff series via taking the Atlantic or finishing with the fourth-best record in the East. The Nets and Hawks are currently deadlocked for the coveted fourth spot.
If Brooklyn needs to take a look back in order to move forward, it may take great pride in noting some of its more impressive road victories from earlier this season.
There was that memorable 95-83 victory at Boston on Nov. 28, which featured a shoving match between Nets power forward Kris Humphries and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
Brooklyn kicked off 2013 with a rousing 110-93 triumph at defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City after being verbally challenged by interim coach P.J. Carlesimo following a humbling 31-point loss in San Antonio on New Year's Eve.
On Jan. 21, the Nets earned a split of their four-game regular-season series against the East River rival Knicks with an 88-85 victory at Madison Square Garden via Joe Johnson's go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds remaining.
"If you told us at the beginning of the year we'd win at Oklahoma City, at Indiana, and at New York, I'd say that's pretty strong," noted Carlesimo, who has guided Brooklyn to a 20-10 overall record -- 9-5 on the road -- since taking over for Avery Johnson in late December.
"We've been a decent road team, not a great one, and those are big wins," Carlesimo added.
For the record, the Nets have dropped nine of their last 11 meetings with the Bulls in Chicago entering Saturday's visit, suffering an 83-82 loss in the Windy City on Dec. 15. The franchise's last win in Chicago was a 97-85 victory on Feb. 18, 2012.
Before the Nets tip off with the Mavericks at the Barclays Center on Friday night, Brooklyn's top AA high-school hoops squads will be battling it out for the coveted Public School Athletic League crown.
Defending three-time city champion began its run toward a record-tying fourth title with Tuesday's 79-37 rout of Mott Haven behind a game-high 22 points from senior Wesley Myers.
Coach Ruth Lovelace's Kangaroos, seeded 11th following a disappointing regular season in our borough's top division, will visit No. 6 Bayside on Friday at 5 p.m.
Top-seeded Lincoln, which went 15-1 in league play, earned a first-round bye and will kick off the "Sweet 16" with Friday's showdown against visiting No. 16 Wadleigh.
Other AA playoff games featuring Brooklyn teams this Friday include: No. 5 South Shore, which will host 12th-seeded Monroe; No. 13 Brooklyn Collegiate visits No. 4 Wings Academy; Second-seeded Jefferson hosts 18th-seeded Thurgood Marshall.
Though they were disappointed following last weekend's loss to Baruch in the CUNYAC Championship Game, the Lady Bulldogs of Brooklyn College are off to a strong start in the annual ECAC Division III Metro Women's Tournament.
Top-seeded BC rolled to a 70-50 rout of visiting Purchase College on Wednesday night at the West Quad Center as Bishop Ford alum Vanessa D'Ambrosi finished with a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds.
Senior Charnelle Saint Laurent added 16 points and five assists for the Bulldogs (23-5), who established a new program record for wins in a season and advanced to the semifinal round against No. 4 Mount Saint Mary in Brooklyn on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. No. 2 Hartwick will face No. 3 Rutgers-Neward in Saturday's second semifinal at the West Quad Center on Saturday.