Some NBA teams no longer in playoff contention might shut down veteran players over the final two weeks of the regular season, but that’s one trend the Nets will avoid. Point guard Jeremy Lin missed 45 games, but his return after the All-Star break has generated positive momentum that coach Kenny Atkinson believes is important to maintain.
Asked Saturday night about resting players, Atkinson said, “We’re not going to rest. I’ve been saying how important it is for us to finish the season strong, and I do think seeing more of Jeremy together with the group is helpful also. We’d love to have positive momentum going into this important offseason.”
The Nets were 7-8 in March before close losses to the 76ers and Pistons in the final two games of the month. Atkinson disagreed with players who suggested they became complacent after a taste of success.
“It’s really just handling a little success for our young guys and really for the whole roster,” Atkinson said. “That being said, Philly, we were in a pretty tight game. Detroit, the same way. I do think globally we are playing better and we are making a positive move here.”
Hamilton makes up for lost time
One player who lost considerable playing time as Atkinson experimented with a variety of lineups was backup center Justin Hamilton. But he scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting in just 13:54 against the Magic, and it was his third time scoring in double figures over the past five games.
“It’s just getting playing time,” said Hamilton, 27, who was one of two Nets along with Brook Lopez celebrating his birthday on April Fools’ Day. “That’s a big deal. It’s nice if you’re getting on the court. I’m just getting back to the way I like to move and the way I like to play.”
The Nets outscored Orlando in the paint by 72-32. That marked their season-high in points in the paint and only the sixth time in franchise history they have scored 70 plus points in the paint since it became an official stat in 1996-97 . . . Lopez, who turned 29, recorded his seventh 30-point game this season and is 90 points away from passing Buck Williams as the leading scorer in Nets history.