Mason Plumlee (19 points, 13 rebounds) leads Nets over Nuggets
Mason Plumlee can officially back up the moving truck to Lionel Hollins' doghouse.
He's finally out of it, meaning he can leave it furnished for the next resident.
"Mason's made a conscious decision to go and just play and not worry about what I say," Hollins said. "If I yell at him, if I take him out of the game -- just go play. His confidence is rising. He's doing some stuff that I haven't seen Mason do since I've been here and it's good to see."
On the night their 7-footer returned from injury after missing the previous eight games with a strained lower back, it was the Nets' 6-11 second-year big man who stood tallest on this night. Turning in easily one of the best performances of his young pro career, Plumlee was a force, tossing in 19 points and matching his career high with 13 rebounds to power the Nets to a 102-96 victory over the Nuggets at Barclays Center Tuesday night.
In posting his fourth double-double in his last seven games and fifth of the season while starting at center in place of Brook Lopez, Plumlee had a clutch fourth quarter for the Nets (12-15). He was a spark plug in crunchtime, recording six points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 10:34.
Plumlee also snared a pair of big offensive rebounds in the final 12 minutes, serving as the catalyst in a 19-4 run that turned an 85-78 deficit with 9:14 remaining into a 97-89 advantage.
"It's a good feeling, but at the same time, it's just something to build on," Plumlee said. "I'm not where I want to be. It's a step in the right direction. It feels good to where I was at, but I still have a ways to go."
Joe Johnson had 27 points, netting eight in the fourth quarter, and Jarrett Jack had 17 points and eight assists while starting his second straight game with Deron Williams still unavailable because of a low-grade right calf strain.
Ty Lawson led Denver (12-17) with 29 points and nine assists.
The Nets netted a season-high 60 points in the paint Tuesday night and held the Nuggets to 14-for-39 shooting from the field in the second half. The Nets needed that kind of offensive production inside, given their rebounding disparity.
Lopez, who came off the bench for the first time since November 2008 in his rookie year and had six points and four rebounds in 8:15, isn't a strong rebounder and his return did little to help much on the glass. The Nets got crushed on the boards, staring at a double-digit rebounding deficit through the game's initial three quarters and finishing on the wrong end of a 51-39 count.
But Hollins elected to go with a smaller lineup in the fourth that featured mostly Plumlee, Johnson, Jack, Alan Anderson and Sergey Karasev. The strategy worked perfectly. The Nets outrebounded the Nuggets 13-11 in the fourth and outworked Denver 16-10 in the second-chance points department.
"Tonight was one of those nights, especially in the fourth quarter, where things were going our way," Johnson said. "We managed to stay right where we needed to be going into the fourth. I think we were down like one or two and pretty much with about three minutes left, we kind of opened it up a little bit, gave ourselves [a chance]. That's what it's about."