What a difference two days make. After an embarrassing loss to the Indiana Pacers Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets (14-16) pulled out a bounce-back victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings (13-18) on Monday, winning 107-99.
The Nets were led by Mason Plumlee, the most coveted piece in the recently rumored trade discussions between these two teams. Talks eventually dissipated because of the Nets’ reluctance to include him in a deal. Plumlee finished the game with 22 points, including 10-16 from the free throw line, as he went toe-to-toe with Team USA teammate DeMarcus Cousins.
It was Plumlee’s fifth career 20+ point performance and his fourth in his last 8 games. “I feel a really good rhythm. I think that whole group…has a great rhythm,” he said. His confidence is at an all-time high and it’s to no one’s surprise: He’s playing loose and sticking to his strengths; making hustle plays, staying active offensively and defensively, and finishing around the rim.
Cousins finished the game with 24 points and 13 rebounds in the losing effort. The outspoken center was upset his Kings could trim the lead but were unable to secure the win. “It’s frustrating. Even as bad as we played tonight we still had opportunities to win. Brooklyn flat-out outplayed us, though.”
Cousins has had a tremendous start to his season, averaging 24.7 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, and had one ferocious slam followed by a mean-mug right in Plumlee’s throat:
Deron Williams and Brook Lopez didn’t see a ton of playing time, as both continue to come off the bench behind Jarrett Jack and Mason Plumlee. After the game, Hollins explained that he’s not interested in changing the lineup when the team is playing well. “While [Deron Williams and Brook Lopez] were out, we started playing better and winning so why would I change the lineup for now?”
“Both of those guys are accepting their roles and helping us win, and that’s what the business is all about.”
Lopez saw the court for just 11 minutes, but he did remind us of his offensive arsenal, hitting long-range jumpers and finishing underneath. He scored 11 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in limited action. He did rack up five quick personal fouls, a bit too aggressive in his attempt to remain on the floor.
Deron Williams played 16 minutes, scoring six points while shooting 2-6 from the floor. It’s worth noting he and Lopez had a few possessions in the 4th quarter where they were able to orchestrate some offensive flow. On one occasion, Williams found Lopez underneath for the easy alley-oop lay-in after Deron’s defender fell to the hardwood. In another instance, Deron drove from the right wing straight at his defender, spun around him and layed the ball in the basket, all in one motion. It was a refreshing reminder of what Williams can do, once every 187 possessions.
A game of two sub-.500 teams and poor defense leads to open guys at the rim. That’s exactly what happened as both the Nets and Kings were able to meet at the rim for dunks and alley-oops on numerous occasions; none of them greater than a 38 year-old getting one for himself: Kevin Garnett took a sip of Vince Carter’s prune juice and officially defeated Father Time, with what started as a Garnett-led fast break and ended with a Sergey Karasev alley-oop connection:
When asked about his dunk, Garnett acknowledged he knows he’s “150 years” but that he keeps himself in good shape. “Ya’ll just haters right now,” Garnett joked. Hollins wasn’t surprised in the least, expecting that Garnett will be able to dunk when he’s 68.
Brooklyn has come out victorious in 4 of their last 5 contests and look to continue their battle back to .500 as they head out to Chicago on Tuesday, their first of three consecutive games away from the Barclays Center.