Do you have a feeling now that you’re going to get more consistent minutes?
“I really don’t know. I promise you I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I just don’t know. I really don’t know. The way the season’s going, I don’t know nothin’. … I had a good game today. I would be more happy if I could string together a couple good games. I’m an NBA player, I had one good game in a month.”
After finishing this answer, Brooklyn Nets backup guard MarShon Brooks did something we haven’t seen him do much of after Nets games — he laughed.
Brooks, who admittedly clashed with former coach Avery Johnson, was then asked if the team had a different energy in this past week under Carlesimo. He paused for a moment before answering: “…Yeah, it does seem like it, right?”
Truth be told, Brooks hasn’t had much of an opportunity to have more than one good game this season, much less in the past month. An early injury in training camp knocked him out of Johnson’s rotation, and without consistent playing time, Brooks couldn’t re-kindle his scoring flame from a year earlier.
“I think my problem was when my confidence took a swoop, I was looking to pass too much, so I turned the ball over,” he said. “Crazy.”
Finally, with the Nets needing to rest starters after a grueling (for everyone) double-overtime game the night before against the Washington Wizards, Brooks had an opportunity to play significant time Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings, and he delivered: splitting defenders with a fancy dribble-drive move, hitting more than one seemingly impossible fadeaway as the shot clock expired, hitting five of six shots in the restricted area, and finishing with 15 points on 7-14 shooting in a season-high 26 minutes as the Nets blew out the Kings, 113-93, to improve to 5-1 in the P.J. Carlesimo era.
The time “off” wore on Brooks, a talented, smooth scorer who struggled with the minutes dearth. “I’m very impatient,” Brooks said after the game. “It was tough, but I came to work, me and (assistant coach) Doug (Overton), we got shots up every day.
“I mean, it’s basketball at the end of the day. I just work on my craft.”
It’s not just Brooks that appears reinvigorated. Brook Lopez has looked like a new animal, averaging 29.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes on 59.8% shooting in the Carlesimo era. Deron Williams, much-maligned for his shooting woes early in the season, is now 44% from deep in the past six games.
Though it’s certainly a small sample size, the offense has looked different under Carlesimo: much less intentioned isolationism, more fluid flex and off-ball screens, more pick-and-rolls with Brook Lopez, and as Brooks also notes, more defense leading into offense.
“We got back to it on the defensive end,” Brooks noted. “We got some fast-break points. In December, we weren’t getting too many really easy points. Everything was isolations — ball going here, ball going there, and it wasn’t really moving. Especially in the (Oklahoma City) Thunder game, I thought the ball rotated sides a lot. It’s tough to guard when it’s rotating sides, you’ve got to close out on Joe (Johnson) and D-Will.”
In December, the Nets scored just 100.8 points per 100 possessions, 21st in the NBA over the month. In three games in January, the Nets have bumped that number up to 116.2 points per 100 possessions, best in the NBA.