NEW YORK — Even if Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins is reluctant to discuss it, his offense has seemed to thrive even more with guard Jarrett Jack and center Mason Plumlee in the starting lineup.
Plumlee and Jack both had effective games and the Nets made enough plays down the stretch for a 107-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Plumlee came within a point of his career high by finishing with 22 points. Ten of those points came at the line where he set career highs for foul shots made and attempts with 16.
When Plumlee wasn’t getting to the line during his 34 minutes, he had three dunks and shot 6 of 7 from the field. It was his fourth 20-point game of the season and all of those games have come while he started in the middle while Brook Lopez was hurt and now while the seven-footer is working into shape following a back injury.
“I think there are a couple of plays when you’re on the block and you ask for it and they give it to you,” Plumlee said. “That gives you a little something. That gives you confidence when teammates throw it in and you know offensively that can get really you going.”
As for Jack, he had 16 points and in five starts for Deron Williams, the veteran is averaging 19.4 points, 5.4 assists in 36 minutes while effectively meshing with Plumlee on pick-and-roll situations.
“Oh man, I’m just proud of him,” Jack said. “He’s going out there playing instinctive tough basketball and being that physical presence we need in the middle offensively and defensively, knocking down free throws. He’s just really coming of age in this league making a great name for himself.
Those are minutes that usually go to Lopez and Williams but against Sacramento, neither played more than 20. Lopez picked up five fouls and had 11 points in 11:47 while Williams had six points in 16:52 in his third game back from a calf injury.
“This is the Brooklyn Nets,” Hollins firmly said. “Yes they were starters, they’ve been out and if you note while they were out we started playing better and winning so why would I go back and change the lineup for now? I would hope that they would play better and they did.
“Hopefully they will continue to play well and maybe we will have a good mix of starters and bench. Before, we didn’t have a good mix so hopefully this will help us out. Both of those guys are accepting their roles and are helping us win and that’s what this business is all about.”
While the Nets won for the fourth time in five games and rebounded from a 25-point home loss the Indiana Pacers the Kings lost for the sixth time in eight games under interim coach Tyrone Corbin.
Forward Rudy Gay had 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting and nine rebounds while center DeMarcus Cousins added 24 and 13 rebounds, although he was frustrated with Sacramento committing 21 points leading to 25 Brooklyn points.
“I’ll put it this way, in situations like this when things get tough you start to see people’s real true colors,” Cousins said. “You start to see who is really in it and who is really not. As bad as it may seem this is also a good thing because you are going to know who is ready to go to battle with you every night.”
The Nets had difficulty closing it out as five straight points from Gay made it a 93-88 game with 5:12 left. Less than two minutes later forward Mirza Teletovic hit consecutive 3-pointers and Plumlee had a layup, giving Brooklyn a 101-90 lead with 3:28 remaining.
Even that was not enough to secure the victory. Sacramento was within 103-97 after guard Darren Collison made two of three foul shots with 43.6 seconds remaining. Brooklyn finally sealed it by making four foul shots the rest of the way.
NOTES Brooklyn F Kevin Garnett had 10 points in 21 minutes and one of those was an alley-oop dunk with 16.3 seconds left in the third quarter. Asked about that dunk, the 38-year-old Garnett said: “Oh stop it, are you serious? I know I’m like 150 years in dog years but I can actually dunk the ball. Do I look that bad out there. I start in the NBA. I’m hoping I can dunk. You can’t start in the league if you can’t dunk.” … Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins also said Sacramento F DeMarcus Cousins was similar to Maurice Lucas and Karl Malone in terms of how they play around the basket and their ability to make jump shots consistently. … Sacramento C Eric Moreland missed the game with a left shoulder injury and coach Tyrone Corbin said surgery may be necessary at some point. … Sacramento G Ramon Sessions missed his third straight game with a strained lower back. … Corbin was an assistant under Jerry Sloan in Utah when Brooklyn PG Deron Williams played there. “He’ll work his way back,” Corbin said. “He’s a great player. He can turn it on at any time.”
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