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Nets vs. Kings: Bruce Brown's Turn In Center Role a One-Off

Well, somebody had to be the center against Golden State on Saturday. It may have been a formality, but the designation fell to 6-foot-4 guard Bruce Brown with DeAndre Jordan out against the Warriors. But with the Warriors without their 7-foot center James Wiseman as well, the landscape laid out perfectly for Brown to make an impact.

“He can be that roller, he can be that slasher, he can cut, so that if we’re not all five guys on the perimeter, so I know it’s unusual for a guard, but he’s excellent at it, and I think he makes it difficult for the defense,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “They want to stay with matchups and he’s diving out quickly to the basket, it’s very difficult. He’s done a good job of finding the soft spots and James (Harden) delivered a lot of times tonight.”

Brown shot 8-for-12 for 18 points with seven rebounds. He’s now shooting 58.0 percent for the season, thriving in the paint. He’s shooting 67.5 percent at the rim, 10 points above the league average, while having taken 80 of his 119 field goal attempts there.

“We had a game plan, and we went out there and did it perfectly,” said Brown. “We knew they were gonna help off me, so once they left me, I just cut to the rim, and I was wide open, every time. So I’m just used to teams leaving me because we have the scorers we have on the floor when I’m out there, so I’m just gonna cut and find ways to score the ball.”

DURANT OUT VS. KINGS

The Nets have listed Kevin Durant out against Sacramento on Monday night due to a left hamstring strain, and he’ll miss Tuesday night’s game against Phoenix as well. DeAndre Jordan, who missed Saturday’s game against Golden State due to personal reasons, has been listed as probable.

HARDEN’S QUICK STRIKES

Mixed in to James Harden’s 16 assists on Saturday night were a handful of lightning bolts, end-to-end passes rewarding teammates for beating the Golden State defense down the court. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot turned one Harden foul-line-to-foul-line bullet into a wide-open dunk, and Kevin Durant caught a three-quarter-court lob for a layup.

“That’s going to be key. It’s really difficult, obviously, to play in the halfcourt offense every possession,” said Harden. “So I want to get the ball out. And it’s not my speed. It’s not my ability to run up the court as fast as I can. But maybe it’s to advance the ball to get the offense going a little bit more. A couple of them were for scores and a couple of them were just to get the ball advanced.

“So we were able to attack before the defense loads up. And the majority of it is letting guys know that I’m going to get them the ball or try to get them the ball as best as I can no matter the scenario of the game or whatnot. So just be ready, be prepared, and if you’ve got a shot, shoot it. If not, then make the smart play. Once you instill that in your teammate’s head every game possession by possession, hopefully, you will have some results later in the season and the postseason where guys have confidence to be able to make plays.”

NUMBERS GAME

Saturday’s win was the first time all five Nets starters scored 15-plus points in a regulation game since April 16, 1999 against Seattle, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

In addition, the Nets dished a season-high 35 assists; reached the 130-point mark for the seventh time this season, matching the franchise record from the 2018-19 season in just their 28th game; and James Harden’s 16 assists were the most by a Nets player since the Brooklyn era launched in 2012-13.

ABOUT THE KINGS

The Kings are 12-13 going into Sunday night’s game in Memphis, having dropped their last two after winning seven of eight. They’ve been struggling on the defensive end, allowing the most points in the league per 100 possessions (116.9) and ranking 26th in opponent field goal percentage allowed (47.9). They’ve been solid on the other end, ranking 10th in field goal percentage (47.5), 11th in 3-point percentage (37.3), and ninth in assists (25.9)

De’Aaron Fox is averaging 23.4 points and 6.7 assists and Harrison Barnes is averaging 16.6 while shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range. Buddy Hield is shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range, but he’s a career 43.6 percent shooter there, never below 42.5 percent for a full season. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton has made a strong impression rounding out the guard rotation, and Richaun Holmesis third in the league with 64.7 field goal percentage.