With Treveon Graham out for Monday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks with back soreness, a change in the starting lineup for the Brooklyn Nets was required. But Kenny Atkinson opted to take the opportunity to shuffle things around a little bit more.
Rookie Rodions Kurucs returned to the starting lineup in place of Graham, making his first start since before the All-Star break, and Allen Crabbe stepped back into start with Caris LeVert coming off the bench.
The results were emphatic, as the Nets romped to a 127-88 win, the largest margin of victory in the franchise's Brooklyn era. At one point midway through the fourth quarter, they led by 44 points.
"It's one game," said Atkinson. "I think we wanted to change something up, do something a little different. (Caris) coming off the bench or starting, he told me this morning, 'I really don't care coach ... as long as I get my minutes.' He got his minutes. Allen gives us a little more spacing out there. So you've got Allen and Joe (Harris), now you've got two shooters. I think that helps D'Angelo out. I think that helps our roll game. Then in that second unit now you've got Spencer (Dinwiddie) and Caris who are downhill guys and we'll put two shooters with them. First look, I really liked it."
The Nets ended up shooting 56.5 percent overall and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. Kurucs had his highest-scoring game since Jan. 14 with 19 points and matched his season-high with five 3-pointers.
DeMarre Carroll came off the bench to match his season-high with 22 points while shooting the same 5-for-7 from 3-point range as the Nets got huge production and shooting from the 4 spot.
"It helps when Rodi made shots like that," said Atkinson. "It changes the equation when you've got your 4 man knocking them down. It's like pick your poison. I liked the lineup change. Again, it's one game, but gave us more space out there."
Carroll was just part of Brooklyn's bench blitz. Caris LeVert had 18 points, his high since coming back from injury 10 games ago, plus five assists and five rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie, himself play game No. 3 in his own return from injury, scored 16 points while shooting 6-of-8 from the field.
Atkinson liked the pairing of the two guards with aggressive drive games, and a look at the numbers from their previous time on the court together offered up an analytic argument for pairing them off the bench. The Nets outscored Dallas 68-31 off the bench.
"With that second unit, you've got five starters coming off the bench," said D'Angelo Russell. "That team could start and be their own team and be their own team and start and compete in this league, so I think that's where we can get advantages. A lot of teams don't have the personnel to do that, so it was a great move by coach."
Russell picked up a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, picking apart the Mavericks with Crabbe, Kurucs and Joe Harris out there to help space the floor.
"We trust coach's moves," said Russell. "At this point in the season, he makes plays, he makes calls, we've just got to go with it. I thought today, it was great. I think we may have figured out some type of recipe, just keeping guys going and everybody in attack mode."