City Sports Report

Hollins Helps Nets Reach .500 with Bold Moves

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins (Photo by Herbert Delancey)

Jason Schott – City Sports Report

The Nets held on to beat the Orlando Magic 100-98 on Friday night on the road to finally reach the .500 mark at 16-16, the first time since November 12, 2014. They have now won six of their last seven games.

A big part of the reason the Nets have reached the .500 mark is the boldness of Head Coach Lionel Hollins to start Jarrett Jack at point guard instead of Deron Williams and Mason Plumlee at center instead of Brook Lopez. Hollins is not letting what the team pays franchise players Lopez and Williams dictate who will play in the lineup.

Plumlee has been the starting center since December 10, 2014, at the Chicago Bulls, as Lopez was forced from the lineup due to a lower back injury. In the 13 games he has been the starting center, he has had five double-doubles and scored over 20 points three times, the latest being in Monday’s win against Sacramento, when Plumlee scored 22 points on 6-for-7 from the field and made 10 of 16 free throw attempts.

Jack took over as starting point guard on December 21, 2014 against the Detroit Pistons, a day in which he had 15 points and 10 assists. Jack’s biggest game in the streak was when he had 27 points and 5 assists in Boston the day after Christmas. In his last five games, Jack is averaging 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.

Another less controversial move Hollins did was making Sergey Karasev the starting shooting guard in place of Bojan Bogdanovic, who had that role from the start of training camp. Karasev got his first start on December 10, 2014 in Chicago, ironically the same night Plumlee was made the starting center.

Karasev may not have the sexiest stats, averaging 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists this season, but his defense is far superior to Bogdanovic. He also passes the ball far more, looking for the open man, be it Joe Johnson or Plumlee.

In looking at the Nets’ 32 games this season, their biggest win early was their 110-99 win over the New York Knicks at Barclays Center on November 7, 2014, which gave them an early confidence boost and sent New York into a tailspin that has not ended, as they sit at 5-31. Soon after, the Nets suffered a tough loss in Phoenix, 112-104, on November 12, 2014 that started a five-game losing streak. Included in that streak were tough losses at home to the Miami Heat on November 17, 2014, and a 122-118 triple-overtime loss to Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks on November 19, 2014.

The Nets then treaded water for the next two weeks, and beat the Knicks again, this time at the Garden on December 2, 2014, 98-93. The next night, the Nets coughed up a 20-point lead late, but beat the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 95-93 in overtime on December 3, 2014. The Nets then showed little effort two nights later in a 98-75 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

On December 8, 2014, the Nets played hosts to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Prince William and Duchess Kate. The Cavs blew the Nets out in the second half and won 110-88. Two nights later, the Nets lost in Chicago to the Bulls. At this point, the team was 8-12, and rumors of trades for Williams, Lopez, and Johnson were rumbling. At a press conference before their win over Philadelphia on Friday, December 12, 2014, Nets General Manager Billy King said he was not shopping the Big Three, but was taking calls on them, so in essence, they are on the trade market.

The Nets beat Charlotte the next night, December 13, 2014, and followed that up with losses to Miami at home and in Toronto and Cleveland to fall to 10-15. That was ultimately the nadir, as they took advantage of a good amount of home games and favorable opponents to win six of their last seven games, with the one loss coming last Saturday night in Brooklyn against Indiana. The biggest win in the stretch came on Tuesday night when they beat the Chicago Bulls 96-82 on the road.

The Brooklyn Nets host Rajon Rondo and the new-look Dallas Mavericks tonight at Barclays Center.

One Comment

  1. Jason

    January 5, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    He put his foot on D.Williams throat…That’s been a long time coming to D. Williams. That was the best thing he could have done for the Nets making that guy come off the bench! He checked him!
    #greatmove

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