Brooklyn Nets power forward Reggie Evans, who’d come off the bench in all 17 of his prior appearances, made his first start as a Nets player last night and 290th start of his career last night, replacing Kris Humphries in the lineup.
Coach Avery Johnson likely made the switch knowing that Evans & Blatche had a better chemistry from their bench mob work together than Humphries & Blatche, and the numbers bore that out: heading into last night, the Evans/Blatche combo outscored opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions, while the Humphries/Blatche combo had been outscored by 7.8 points per 100 possessions. True to form, Johnson played Humphries primarily as a backup 5 last night, and only spent three minutes with Blatche on the floor. Evans & Blatche played 18 minutes together, and the team was a -16 when the two shared the floor.
The overall minute spread didn’t change too drastically for the two. Humphries played 25 minutes, which is his season average, and Evans played 27 minutes, seven above his season average. Humphries finished with seven rebounds and four points on 2-8 shooting, Evans with nine rebounds and five points on 2-3 shooting. Other than a hot start from Evans — he picked off two quick steals that led to fast-break buckets, when the Nets took an early 11-2 lead — neither looked particularly comfortable in their newfound role.
“You gotta be able to adapt to whatever,” Evans said after the game. “Is it different? Yeah, it’s different, ’cause I’m starting. Instead of feeling out the game… sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. Whatever coach brings to you, you just gotta adapt. But it’s different.”
Johnson didn’t meet with Evans or Humphries about the decision; according to Evans, Johnson just handed him a white jersey in practice, and he just assumed it put him in a starting role. It’s not clear who will start Tuesday, and Humphries said he doesn’t need to know yet.
Humphries echoed Evans about the difference. “It’s a different mindset. You just have to get in there and find a rhythm, rebound the ball, play defense, and do my thing. So a different rhythm to it. … It’s more in the game. It’s different because if you start, you’re in warmups to the game right away. When you’re off the bench… you just have to stay loose.
“I mean, coaches make decisions, you just go out there and do your job.”