By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
Nets center Brook Lopez has played significant minutes with Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans at power forward, and the combinations have had mixed results. On Tuesday night against New Orleans, Lopez played with Andray Blatche for most of the second half, and it was a big reason for the Nets’ 108-98 win.
The Nets led throughout the first half, by as many as 13 points, but New Orleans hung around as they did in their game two weeks ago down south.
The Nets were clinging to a 68-64 lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter when Reggie Evans committed his fourth foul. Nets Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo turned to Blatche to take his spot.
WATCH P.J. TALK ABOUT WHY HE WENT TO BLATCHE:
The results were great to start, as Lopez had a running layup and a driving dunk, followed by a Deron Williams driving layup to open up a 74-67 lead.
New Orleans had another run in them and tied the game at 78 on a Roger Mason, Jr. three-pointer. On the Nets’ ensuing possession, Blatche missed a three-foot layup, and got the put-back with 0.3 seconds left to make it 80-78 Nets to end the third.
They would never give up the lead, and started the fourth quarter on a 12-3 run with the offense running very fluidly with Blatche and Lopez out there.
Blatche had just four points on 2-for-3 shooting with 2 rebounds in the fourth quarter, but he was a big part of why the Nets outscored New Orleans 30-20 in the fourth, as he meshed very well with the other starters, Lopez, Williams, Gerald Wallace, and C.J. Watson (in for the injured Joe Johnson). The Nets’ interior spacing was greatly improved with Blatche playing the 4.
For the game, Blatche had 18 points on 9-for-15 shooting with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. This was his 25th game he scored in the double-figures.
Off the bench, Blatche has been one of the Nets’ most consistent performers and has earned the right to start. The Evans experiment has run it course, as he has proven to be a liability on offense, and his scoring and ballhandling deficiencies outweigh his 9.3 rebounds per game. Blatche is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game off the bench, so he could probably approach Evans’ average, if given starters’ minutes.
Nets point guard Deron Williams (21 points, 13 assists) approved of having Lopez and Blatche in the game at the same time, and said, “I think it makes a big difference. the whole team has to pay attention to where they are at all times and we can also throw it down to either one of them on the block and let them go to work, especially when they are shooting the ball the way they are, they are really hard to guard.”
In the battle of the Lopez brothers, Brook won it with 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting with 5 rebounds, and seemed to have more explosiveness in this one. Robin Lopez had 15 points (6-for-10 FG) with 8 rebounds for New Orleans and was overmatched by his brother on the defensive end. Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 24 points, and this year’s #1 pick, Anthony Davis, had 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.