LOS ANGELES -- Mason Plumlee was discussing his best game of a pro career that’s in its infantile stages when he was reminded once again that he’s still a rookie.
“Mase,” Andray Blatche shouted before he exited a nearby doorway in the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center. “Don’t forget the waters and Gatorade.”
Such is the life of Plumlee these days. But he’s far from complaining, especially when he was initially supposed to spend most of his time in the D-League and hone his skills. He wouldn’t change a thing.
“It’s part of it,” Plumlee said after pumping in a career-high 19 points, collecting six rebounds in 27 minutes of action in the Nets’ 110-103 loss to the Clippers Saturday night. “People give me a hard time about the little things I have to do. I love this team. There's no other team I’d rather be on.
"I have vets that have me do the most chores I don’t want to do, but at the end of the day, do you want to be teammates with KG, and Paul [Pierce], and Deron [Williams], and Brook [Lopez], and Joe [Johnson] and these guys or not? So, that just comes with it.”
Plumlee has been a nice surprise so far, contributing in small doses before he was called upon to play heavier minutes versus the Clippers since the Nets were without four-fifths of their starting five. He’s averaged 18.5 minutes per game in the Nets’ last five contests, going from 14 for 19 the floor and scoring a combined 35 points.
“He’s figuring it out,” Blatche said. “He’s figuring it out fast. A lot of veteran guys are in his ear telling him what to do and he’s not like most guys who take it as being criticized. He’s taking it as learning and that’s good for him. It’s helping him out a lot.”
Plumlee’s athleticism has really been on full display of late. The Nets have thrown several alley-oops in his direction and he’s converting them, giving the Nets a dimension that they otherwise don’t really have. Lopez isn’t really an alley-oop type of guy.
“I’m not allowed to shoot fadeaways on this team,” Plumlee said. “I took that one shot [Saturday night] where I thought the [shot] clock was running down, and it was like six seconds left. Heard about it half the timeout. I attacked the rim in college, but the NBA game is so different where you catch things on the move, and you are running, and I think a lot of that is just knowing we have great shooters.
“So, how am I different? What can I bring that’s different than what K.G. is bringing or what Dray is bringing. That is playing above the rim, attacking the basket.”
So far so good in carving out a role.
“In college, really I played with my back to the basket,” Plumlee said. “Even in summer league, I’d try to score on the block, and really everything now is playing off penetration, running, running into screens or rolling. So, it’s a different role. But each day, I feel more comfortable and I’m also playing with great players. They know, they see the floor and know to get you the ball in spots. You just have to trust them most of the time.”
He also knows has got start knowing down his free throws. He was 5-for-12 Saturday night and has knocked down just 41.2 percent this season.
“If I make free throws, it’s a different ball game, so that’s noted,” Plumlee said. “I’m hoping to get to the gym. To me, I just think it’s getting comfortable up there. It’s not like I stopped practicing, but I’ll hit free throws going forward.”