Injured Nets forward Yi expects to return next week

By Larry Fine

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The New Jersey Nets' Chinese forward Yi Jianlian expects to return to action next week after missing a month with a sprained ligament in his right knee.

The injury-riddled Nets set an NBA record for the worst start to a season on Wednesday, falling 117-101 to the Dallas Mavericks to become the first team to open a campaign 0-18.

"It's about 90 percent," the 22-year-old Yi told Reuters before the game.

"I still can feel it a little bit when making a hard turn. But I will probably be back in the game next week, for sure."

New Jersey went through a two-week period with only eight available players because of the rash of injuries. Point guard Devin Harris recently returned from a strained groin and Yi's return can only help the struggling Nets.

"I've been running and shooting. I will try to scrimmage in next couple of days," Yi added. "It's no fun to have an injury and be on the bench.

"You think about what you could be doing on the court, like rebounding, like making a cut, running or moving. Lots of stuff. You think about how you could fit in on the court.

"It's bad for sure. We're losing a lot of games, but we had all these injuries at the beginning of the season. It's tough. It's hard to win games when you play with eight guys.

(Editing by John O'Brien)