Nets rebounding star Reggie Evans adds offense to his game
BOSTON -- When delving into the reasons for Reggie Evans' recent off-the-charts play, P.J. Carlesimo was rather succinct.
"Coaching," the Nets interim coach deadpanned before they took on the Celtics at TD Garden Wednesday night.
Exactly 24 hours after snaring 24 rebounds and tossing in 17 points against the 76ers, Evans was back at it against Boston, doing his thing in a game the Nets needed to win in order to tighten their grip on fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Fourth place guarantees them home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Mission accomplished. Deron Williams had 29 points and 12 assists to lead the Nets to a 101-93 victory. Brook Lopez scored 21 points and Joe Johnson added 20 for Brooklyn, which beat the Celtics for the third time in four meetings this season.
Evans scored just one point Wednesday night with 14 rebounds. However, in his last 12 games leading into Wednesday night, Evans averaged 9.6 points and 17.8 rebounds, shooting a hot 53.9 percent from the field. So although he posted double-digit rebounds in all 12 of those contests, it's his offensive game that's really helped.
He's contributing three more points per game since the All-Star break, which might not sound like a whole lot. But it really is, considering teams weren't respecting him for his offense and were suffocating the other four players on the floor.
No longer, though. Evans breaks out the baby left hook. He'll give a few head fakes and go into a quick post move. He's become anything but predictable.
"It makes a huge difference because all year, we've been an offensive rebounding team," Carlesimo said, "but we haven't been as good a second-chance points team as you would think with all the offensive rebounds we get. So with him converting the ones he's been converting lately, we are getting more second-chance points and our percentage is going up.
"So that makes a huge difference and it also makes a difference in terms of how people can guard him when he's scoring the way he's scoring right now. It's not only the scoring, it's the short passes, the decision-making that he's doing. It definitely makes us, I think, more difficult to defend."
Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers has an affinity for Evans and his rugged style. There's just something about Evans' uncanny knack for wiping the glass clean that Rivers, who had some grittiness to him in his NBA playing days, can appreciate.
"He's been great," Rivers said. "He does it with his effort, but he really does it with his brain.
"I just think great rebounders for the most part are pretty smart basketball players. They have a high basketball I.Q. and that makes them a hell of a player."
In fact, Rivers likened part of Evans' skill set to one player he coached, Ben Wallace, and even compared him to Rodman. The Worm seemingly had rebounding down to a science, and Rivers sees some of that in Evans.
"They all have that characteristic," Rivers said. "They have great instincts."