Thanks to some exciting leapers & new faces, the Nets’ (23-31) newfound athleticism has oozed into their play.
After racking up 114 points against the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday night, the Nets rolled over the Denver Nuggets 110-82 on Monday, marking the first time they’ve reached the 110-point mark in consecutive games since March 2013. Seven different Nets scored in double figures on Monday, and thanks to Brown’s 10-point, 11-rebound, four-block, and 45-minute (!) performance in his first NBA start, the team suddenly has more depth in their rotation.
Tonight in New Orleans, the third stop on their five-game post-All-Star road trip, the Nets shoot for their third win a row against the shorthanded Pelicans (29-27). Already without starting point guard Jrue Holliday (stress fracture in leg), head coach Monty Williams’s team was blindsided with two injuries during their win over the Miami Heat on Saturday; Ryan Anderson was forced to leave the game with what turned out to be a sprained MCL and will miss 2-4 weeks, while All-Star forward and MVP candidate Anthony Davis re-aggravated his sprained shoulder and will be out 1-2 weeks. Depending on how Davis recovers, both could also miss their rematch in Brooklyn on March 10th. With Davis out, Tyreke Evans becomes the team’s de facto leader: he’s averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.
Nets coach Lionel Hollins has opted for the smaller lineups the past two games, and a swifter, more explosive Deron Williams has taken advantage with his aggressive play, piling up 27 assists in that span. The Nets look quicker in all facets of the game since the All-Star break, and Hollins has found something to build on with his newfound options and lineups.
“It’s working in our favor so far,” said Young, who scored 15 points in 24 minutes off the bench against the Nuggets. “We’re doing a good job of going out there, running our stuff and just picking apart the defense just by playing the pockets and making the right passes and plays.”
Despite the injuries, the Pelicans were still able to win their last two games, including a come-from-behind victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night. After falling behind by 18 points in the first half, the Pelicans surged thanks to some help from some unlikely sources off the bench. Alexis Ajinca (yes, that Alexis Ajinca), Luke Babbitt, and newly-acquired Norris Cole combined for 49 points on 22-32 shooting to propel the Pelicans to a 100-97 victory.
While coach Williams contemplates his short-handed rotation for tonight’s game, Hollins should have a reliable part of his arsenal back: Jarrett Jack (hamstring) exclaimed “He’s back!” after Tuesday’s practice. Williams is still expected to start. Bojan Bogdanovic will miss his second straight game with a sprained ankle after missing practice yesterday.
Tip-off is at 8:00 PM E.S.T. at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA.