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Nets' second unit like another set of starters

Jason Terry speaks with members of the media

Jason Terry speaks with members of the media during training camp at Duke University in Durham, N.C. (Oct. 1, 2013) Credit: AP

Acting as if he initially didn't want to reveal the details to protect the innocent, Nets coach Jason Kidd hesitated, probably because he wasn't sure if it was necessarily a good thing.

After all, a team's reserve unit isn't supposed to get the best of four-fifths of their $65-million starting lineup.

"I'll let those guys tell you who won between 'white' and 'black,' " Kidd said, referring to the Nets' reversible practice jersey colors. "But that second unit is pretty talented."

So far in camp, as the Nets work up to Tuesday's preseason opener against the Wizards in Washington, the early returns indicate the reserves are doing more than just holding their own.

Sure, Deron Williams hasn't been a part of the full-court action, watching from the sideline as he eases his way back from a sprained ankle. Still, even with Shaun Livingston sliding into Williams' role at times with the starting unit, the reserves apparently have been showing the first unit who's boss during scrimmages.

Just ask the guys wearing the black jerseys, which typically includes Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.

"[Saturday] was the first day we got a win," Pierce said. "Every day, the 'white' has been beating us by one. It's been really close and it's come down to the last minute each and every day. But that's what we ask out of 'white.' We are a deep team.

"They are going to push us. We're changing up the lineups, back and forth due to D-Will not being in there. But 'white' is definitely giving us a run for our money and it's only going to make us better."

With the additions of Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko and Livingston -- paired with the return of Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans -- the Nets believe they essentially have two starting lineups. That means spirited competition at practice between the units.

Kidd said he can see the winning attitude manifesting itself already.

"That's all a part of, 'You want to win a championship,' " Evans said. "You've got to make each other better. And the only way we can make each other better, we have to be able to go at them every day because they are going to go at us. They see that we are not playing with them, so they can't really play around with us."

Livingston said that's the idea. In a sense, everyone who's not in the starting lineup has something to prove.

"It ain't a joke. They've got to play," Livingston said. "We've got depth. We are probably even 12 to 14 deep . . . We've got guys who know how to play."

No one has to tell that to Pierce & Co. It didn't take them long to figure that out.

"We are able to put a second unit out there that on a lot of teams could start," Pierce said. "So it's like you've got two starting units going at one another. And a lot of teams don't have that luxury. So in that aspect, we can't help but to get better."

New York Sports