Seldom-used rookie guard Markel Brown has infused the Nets lineup with some life after the 11-day layoff for the All-Star break. Brown rarely stepped off the bench in the first 51 games, typically only seeing action in blowouts.
Lionel Hollins, however, liked what he saw from Brown in the practices leading up to the break, and the guard has played a big hand in the team’s 2-1 start after the All-Star break.
After wins over bottom dwellers, the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, the Nets suffered a disappointing 102-96 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night. The Pelicans were without three rotation players–Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday–making it a tough one to swallow.
That said, the Nets are still playing a better style of basketball that has at least provided some energy. In addition to Brown, Thaddeus Young came over in the Kevin Garnett trade and has shined in his opportunities. Although not the greatest shooter, his agility and footwork will force double teams from the opponent.
Young scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting while Brown added eight points and four rebounds in 30 minutes. Neither player is featured in the offense, so the 27 combined points are an added bonus when most of the plays went through Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez.
While going small every night might not be the best play, Brown has at least made the case for staying in the rotation once Bojan Bogdanovic returns. He played 45 minutes in a 110-82 win over the Nuggets and became the first Net since Terrence Williams to notch a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in his first start.
“He’s been playing extremely well in practice lately and I wanted to give him a chance to go out there,” Hollins said. “”I like Markel and I’m happy the opportunity is there for him.
“You move up, and you move down,” Hollins added Wednesday. “Guys have their pecking order and Markel has earned the right to play.”
Brown also had some 70 family members in attendance. He enjoyed a storied high school career in Louisiana.
The Nets will return to action Friday night against the Houston Rockets.
“We have another opportunity to get it back in Houston,” said point guard Jarrett jack, who returned from a hamstring injury and came off the bench.
With the loss, the Nets are in a tie for eighth place with the Charlotte Hornets and one game ahead of the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics.