As Slide Continues, Johnson Makes a Swap
With a pregame tweet, the Brooklyn Nets announced the search for stability had finally affected the starting lineup. Seeking improved defense at the beginning of games, Coach Avery Johnson swapped Reggie Evans in for Kris Humphries.
The Nets opened the game with an 11-2 run during the first three minutes, but were outscored 17-2 during the following eight, including 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal. They eventually lost, 97-88.
"It wasn't perfect in the first quarter, but I think the main problem is when Reggie and (Andray) Blatche play together, that's a pretty good combination for us," Johnson said. "We wanted to just mix it up a little bit. And I thought Humphries in the second half, had a really good second half, gave us a lot of energy. Kind of struggled there in the first half."
Humphries shot 1-for-6 in the first half, and though he didn't produce much statistically in the final two quarters – tallying a final line of four points (2-8 FGs), seven rebounds and two blocked shots – the forward played a key role in the Nets closing a 29-point gap to six with 3:03 remaining. On the court for 14 of the final 24 minutes, Humphries was part of the game's most productive Nets lineup, playing alongside Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace.
"(Avery) made the change at practice yesterday, so I was prepared to play," Humphries said. "I've been a guy who hasn't played at all, I've been a guy who came off the bench, I've been a starter. I can adjust to anything."
Evans ended up playing 27 minutes, well above his 19.6-minute average, finishing with five points (2-3 FGs) and nine rebounds (four offensive). A rugged, physical defender whom Avery Johnson credits with raising the intensity level of practices and keeping the rest of the frontcourt on a string, Evans figured he was starting after being asked to throw on his "white" jersey at Saturday's practice.
"Right now, you really just gotta be able to adapt to whatever," Evans said, postgame. "Is it different? Yeah, it's different – you're starting. And instead of getting in the flow of the game, you've just got to roll with the punches and stuff like that. So whatever a coach brings to you, you 've gotta be able to adapt."
The Nets are scheduled to practice tomorrow, and will see what Brook Lopez can do. If he is again unable to participate in contact drills, he'll be out Tuesday against the Knicks, and it seems likely Johnson gives Evans another look with the starting group before ending the experiment, especially since pairing Evans and Blatche provides the Nets their statistically strongest two-man combination.
"Coaches make decisions," Humphries said. "You just go out and do your job."
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