The nickname is "TLC," which stands for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, sorry, but not "tender loving care." At the same time, you could say the Frenchman provides exactly that for the Nets.
During the first three games of the season, Luwawu-Cabarrot was the 11th man in a 10-man playing rotation even though he excelled last season and was especially effective in the "bubble" games. A likely season-ending knee injury to Spencer Dinwiddie catapulted TLC from the end of the bench to a starting spot against the Grizzlies on Monday when stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant sat out as a precaution following surgery, and it was expected that he would start against the Hawks Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
In fact, it’s likely that TLC will start in Dinwiddie’s shooting guard position for the foreseeable future because Nets coach Steve Nash prefers to use Caris LeVert as a sixth man point guard directing the second unit with the ball in his hands. TLC scored 11 fourth-quarter points in a Sunday loss to the Hornets, and he had 21 in a home loss to the Grizzlies on Monday.
"I’m always great to learn and especially losses like that, where I personally made a few mistakes at the end of the stretch," Luwawu-Cabarrot said after losing to the Grizzlies. "It's good to take the mistakes, learn from it, move on. And obviously hoping [for] a better result. But you got to take it. And learn from it."
Luwawu-Cabarrot did not play until the fourth quarter against the Hornets and scored 11 points in that span. Then, he started against the Grizzlies and scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half to give the Nets a 50-48 lead they eventually lost in a 116-111 overtime loss.
"In the second half that they were sticking with me a little bit more and with Joe [Harris] a little bit more, and letting Caris [LeVert] and the big men on the pick-and-roll just play 2-on-2, so they were just staying home," Luwawu-Cabarrot said. "So, I kind of felt that way. But I mean it's no excuse for the end for me."
TLC added that he has not yet talked to Nash about his future role, but it will be a shock if he doesn’t start against the Hawks on Wednesday night in the first of two straight games against the same talented, young opponent.
"TLC has been really steady," Nash said. "Very trustworthy defensively. Knows the system. Is very attentive to his responsibilities, and he’s been shooting the ball. He’s played within himself. He’s doing very well."
Despite the difficulty posed by the last name of Luwawu-Cabarrot, his Nets teammates have been very appreciative of his contribution. As Caris LeVert said after the Grizzlies loss, "Tim played really well. Being confident, knocking down shots. Especially what he did [Sunday night against the Hornets], sitting the whole game and then coming in and knocking down three huge threes. Then [Monday night], it was the same thing.
"As soon as he checked in the game, he shoots his next shot as if the last shot didn’t happen. All you can ask of a shooter is a short memory and just let it fly."
Joe Harris had a similar take on TLC’s early contribution. "TLC’s been great," Harris said. "He obviously played really well throughout the bubble. He had a great training camp, played well throughout preseason, and the opportunity sprung up for him for the wrong reasons [Dinwiddie’s injury]. Spencer’s injury is devastating in terms of you never want to see a teammate impacted and injured in that way, but it provides the opportunity for TLC to come in and play. He’s obviously taken advantage of it."