Nets reserves add zest in romp over Kings
As much as the Nets and everyone else in the NBA shoot for consistency, there is something to be said for change. It can help, for instance, when someone new becomes the coach. As Deron Williams said Saturday night about the switch made Dec. 27: "I think it woke us up."
And it can help when some players get new chances. This was really evident Saturday night when interim coach P.J. Carlesimo called on Mirza Teletovic and MarShon Brooks, who were consistent benchwarmers late in the Avery Johnson coaching era. Those two gave the Nets new life, and a spirited 113-93 win over the Kings at sold-out Barclays Center.
Brooks scored eight of his 15 points in the second quarter, when the second unit gave the weary starters a breather and gave the Kings fits. He drew oohs from the crowd with behind-the-back dribbling and baskets that just beat the shot clock.
"MarShon is a very confident player. He is also very offensive-oriented," Teletovic said. "Once he gets playing, he is very, very tough to guard."
Teletovic, who came from the pro ranks in Spain with a reputation as a sharpshooter, had nine points in that 29-16 second quarter. That was more than he had scored in any previous NBA game. He later made an emphatic dunk and blocked two shots by DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings' most imposing player (28 points, 15 rebounds).
"Mirza can play, man," Brooks said. "There are days when he's the best player in practice."
The Nets have not had time for practice lately, with six games in nine days. They have won five of those games. With the exception of the startling win in Oklahoma City, it could be said that it was business as usual for them. They beat the lesser teams no matter who is coaching. Including Saturday night, they are 12-0 against teams with losing records.
But this did seem different. The starting five, led by Brook Lopez's team-high 18 points, came out with surprising zest after a draining double-overtime win in Washington Friday night. "Then our bench came in and took it to a whole other level," Lopez said.
Carlesimo did not take credit for unearthing players who were gathering dust. He went to Brooks and Teletovic because other players were sore or unavailable. Brooks played more because Jerry Stackhouse was hurting.
"Mirza got to play because Hump got hurt," the interim coach said, referring to Kris Humphries, who was out with a sprained left ankle. "But he took advantage of it. I'm not saying it's Wally Pipp . . . "
Teletovic was a pleasant development for the Nets, who have some decent-size hopes for him. The veteran forward said the NBA game is faster than pro ball in Europe, and he still is learning. "I was not thinking about scoring," Teletovic said. "I was just trying to bring lots of energy."
Brooks brought a lot of that, too, having spent a lot of time waiting for a chance like this. "I'm very impatient," the second-year guard said. "But I just worked on my craft. Even though I was on the bench, I was still trying to improve. It's more than the games, a lot more than the games."
This game left the Nets feeling that they can do even more.