Shane Larkin has a ways to go, but he’ll get there.
That was Lionel Hollins’ message before Wednesday night’s game against the Raptors, in which the Nets’ point guard made a handful of flashy plays in the first quarter as he tried to erase the memory of his Monday night struggles.
“You have to star in your role, whatever your role is,” Hollins said of Larkin’s ascension to starter. “If it’s short minutes, you star in it, if it’s long minutes, you star in it. You just try to do what you do and you don’t try to change.”
On Monday, in his first start since the season opener, Larkin shot 2-for-7 with two assists in nearly 27 minutes. On Wednesday, he nearly doubled that production in the first quarter, in which he had seven of his nine points and two steals, including one he converted for a basket, showing a touch of the potential to which Hollins alluded. But he didn’t have an assist in the first half, and finished with only four, along with one turnover in 29:43 in the Nets’ 91-74 loss. Part of it may have to do with Larkin’s reluctance in calling plays he’s not accustomed to.
“These guys, they know the plays, but guys that don’t start or play or play a lot of minutes tend to not get as many reps, and so by him getting more reps at practice, it just naturally happens,” Hollins said. “I think he knows the plays but is not comfortable with calling them and knowing what we’re doing, but it will come.”
Larkin’s progress is of keen interest to the Nets, who are still reeling from Jarrett Jack’s season-ending injury. Jack, who exited Saturday night’s game against the Celtics, required surgery on the torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. Between Larkin and backup point guard Donald Sloan, the Nets will have to cobble together some sense of offensive rhythm.
Larkin said that at this point, a certain level of uncertainty is affecting how people play. Like Hollins, though, he’s certain it will come.
“With Jack going out, there’s going to be a little difference in how we play,” Larkin said. “It might take a game or two or three to get through that, and it’s not like we have a lot of practice time . . . It’ll get better. I’m not worried about it. Sloan’s proven he can play in the NBA. I’ve proven that I can play. So we’ve just got to go out there and learn how we’re going to adjust.”