For Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, the last six games of the regular season will be for rest.
For their teammates, the rest of the season will be a chance to make an impact.
“It’s definitely tough to get that news,” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said of Lopez and Young’s shutdown. “You just have to adjust and know that you can trust your teammates and that they’ll step up and we’ll all play our roles and play hard.”
“It gives everyone an opportunity to swing the ball more and get a couple of more shots in and play your game,” he added.
Without Lopez and Young, the Nets’ stretch drive started on Sunday with a 106-87 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at Barclays Center.
The score was lopsided, but the minutes were spread out pretty evenly between the Nets, who were playing under the watchful eye of General Manager Sean Marks. Six players saw 20 minutes (Sergey Karasev saw 19:58) and all 10 played at least 17:55.
They did what they could with the increased minutes. Thomas Robinson posted his fourth straight double-double with a game-high 15 rebounds and 11 points, Karasev set a new career-high with six assists and Henry Sims set a season-high with 12 points.
Sean Kilpatrick led the Nets with 15 points and played hard right to the end, making hustle plays late in the fourth quarter, diving to the floor to keep the ball inbounds, despite Brooklyn trailing by 15.
“At this point of the season you just have to continue to keep playing with a lot of energy,” Kilpatrick said. “We know it’s hard to get up every day not knowing what’s going to happen, but you have to come out with the type of intensity that’s expected of you.”
The Pelicans were playing a similar lineup on Sunday, with most of their regular starters – including Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday – out for the remainder of the season.
Luke Babbitt scored a game-high 21 points, while Tim Frazier – who made the team off a 10-day contract – scored 19 points with a game-high 13 assists. Jordan Hamilton posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Nets led early in the first quarter, but once New Orleans grabbed the lead, they didn’t let go, leading by as many as 22 points in the fourth. The Nets, who trailed by 13 in a 35-28 second quarter, wrestled the game back down to four points in a highly-efficient third quarter, only to see the deficit re-inflate in the fourth. Interim Head Coach said the Nets’ 21 turnovers were a key factor in the loss.
“Defensively we were not in sync the whole night,” Brown said. “I thought we got selfish a little bit in the first half and weren’t playing together. I think we were trying to force the issue a little bit. The stats indicated that.”
With five games remaining in their season, the Nets travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.