Kidd: "We'll enjoy tonight"
By Jason Schott
Mason Plumlee led the Nets to a big win over the New Orleans Pelicans, 93-81, on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
Plumlee had a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and shot 8-for-10 from the field. This was by far his best game of the season and has shown he deserves more time in the rotation as one of the big men filling in for the injured Brook Lopez.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of Plumlee's performance, "We're just going to enjoy tonight." On Plumlee's future, Kidd said, We don't have a crystal ball, but he brings youth, athletic ability, fresh legs, ability to catch-and-finish. You can see the hard work that he's put in since this summer. I think also, his teammates believe in him. That's something that you have to give him credit, for listening to the veteran guys like KG and Paul (Pierce) being able to help him understand the NBA game."
Kidd also said of Plumlee, relating this to his season as a whole, "He's a rookie, so he's going to have his ups-and-downs. He's got a great group of guys in that locker room who are always trying to help him to make the game as easy as possible and tonight you could see that with him setting picks and his ability to roll and finish, something he can build on and get better at."
Plumlee was a big reason the Nets jumped out to a 51-28 lead at halftime, as he had 14 points in the first half. He had the play of the night (if not the season) with a one-handed dunk on an alley-oop from Jason Terry late in the second quarter.Terry and Plumlee were part of a fast break, with Terry on the side and Plumlee in the lane. Terry threw it up and Plumlee wound his arm up to connect with the ball and slam it down, which electrified the crowd.
The Pelicans got back into it, by outscoring the Nets 32-20 in the third, bringing back bad memories of some of the rough third quarters earlier this season. New Orleans' Anthony Davis was a big reason for that, with 10 points in the third, part of a 24-point night.
The Nets started the fourth quarter with Plumlee, Terry, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko on the floor, and Kidd nearly played them all the entire fourth, with the exception being Terry, who was pulled for Marquis Teague with 2:36 to go.
This is the second time in three games that Kidd has stuck with bench players who are doing the job to close out a game. They led by as many as 18 in the fourth, at 85-67, on a Kirilenko dunk with 6:54 remaining.
It was Terry's best game of the season, as he played 21 minutes, with 5 assists and 1 point and showed great chemistry with Plumlee. Anderson and Teletovic had 13 each, the only Nets in double figures besides Plumlee. Among the starters, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce had 9 each, Joe Johnson had 8, Kevin Garnett 6, and Shaun Livingston with 2.
Coach Kidd said of the second unit, "I thought they played great. I thought, just talking to the coaches, they played like they did in Detroit, just a carryover from the game in the Detroit. They executed and think they gave the starters a big lift, you know, because they got the lead and they knew what to do to protect the lead."
The Nets are now 23-26, with two games left before the All-Star Break, what can be called the "Cha-chi" back-to-back in honor of the old Happy Days character, and they host Charlotte on Wednesday and travel to Chicago on Thursday to renew their fierce rivalry with the Bulls.