For the fourth time this season, the Nets’ “performance team” rested a healthy Brook Lopez against the Rockets on Sunday night at Barclays Center. Lopez scored 26 points in a four-point loss to the Rockets in Houston earlier this season, but Justin Hamilton started in his place.
“It was looking at the heavy schedule we’ve had — six games in nine days, two back-to-backs,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We’re thinking big picture, long-term. The other thing is some other guys get an opportunity to step up.”
Hamilton had 11 points and shot 5-for-7 in 18 minutes. Quincy Acy, who is on a 10-day contract, had seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. “Without Brook, we were throwing Quincy in there with two practices,” Atkinson said. “We were a little off-kilter.”
Atkinson denied that matching up with a Rockets team that spreads the floor as much as any NBA team was a consideration in the decision.
Atkinson: MLK special
Although the Nets played the day before Martin Luther King Day, Atkinson addressed the occasion with his players. “It’s great,” he said. “Historical American figure, and I know our guys talk about it and think about it, and we’ll talk about it as a team. I know it’s an American holiday, but the NBA really celebrates it with the great games and the fans. A special day in the NBA.”
D’Antoni not for resting
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni was asked if he could foresee resting healthy players, as the Nets did with Lopez. “No, it’s not what I would do,’’ he said. “If they’re tired or a trainer comes to me and says they have an injury, I wouldn’t play them. But so far, that’s not the case. I try to avoid it. We’re trying to win every game.”