The Brooklyn Nets got off to a great start this season and were 11-4 in November, which was the best record in franchise history for the first 15 games. Everything was flowing and the energy was great.
Reggie Evans was coming off the bench, adding tremendous energy and rebounding, and his rebounds per minute are off the charts leading the NBA. Andray Blatche was coming in and giving the Nets great scoring and defense along with CJ Watson running the second unit. The world was good for the Nets.
Then came Nov. 24, late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Boston Celtics, when Brook Lopez hobbled off the court with a “sprained” foot.
The Nets’ world changed.
Lopez hasn’t played in the last four games and all of them have been losses. This has shifted the entire dynamic for the Nets and Avery Johnson is maneuvering as best he can on the fly.
Blatche now has had to start in place of Lopez, which decreases the bench scoring and efficiency and shortens the rotation of bigs the Nets can utilize. The bench has been hurt by this and one player who has not stepped up his game during this time without Lopez is Kris Humphries.
Johnson decided Sunday, prior to the Nets hosting the Milwaukee Bucks, that he was going to start Evans at power forward for Humphries.
“We just wanted to mix it up a little bit,” Johnson said. “We’ve been struggling defensively to start games. The main thing is that when Reggie and Blatche play together, that’s a pretty good combination for us.”
“I’m not really too caught up in the starting aspect,” Evans said. “My wife even asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you were starting?’ I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
Evans provided a spark in the game’s opening minutes and helped the Nets grab an early 11-2 lead with his energy, but all that went away as the Bucks went on a 17-2 run and it was all downhill from there. Evans finished with five points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes and Johnson made note.
“We started out good, and the intensity didn’t stay the whole time,” he said.
Evans is a 6 feet 8 inch “animal” who weighs 245 pounds and will out-work and out-hustle any player on the floor at any time, so the justification is there for Johnson’s decision to demote Humphries.
Humphries is a professional who has been through the wars and had to struggle and fight to make his way to the double-double machine he has built himself into the last two years. He knows the NBA grind and what starting and not starting means and doesn’t mean.
“Coaches make decisions. You just go out there and do your job. That’s what I’m doing,” Humphries said. “I’ve been a guy who hasn’t played at all, I’ve been a guy who comes off the bench, I’ve been a starter.”
“I can adjust to anything,” he added.
Humphries and Evans both have their work cut out for them right now as Lopez will miss his fifth straight game tonight against the cross-town rival New York Knicks and more intensity and fire will be needed by both Nets big men in order for the Nets to snap their current four game losing streak.
Side Note: This is also the hated Knicks we are talking about as well.
John Paolantonio is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the Brooklyn Nets. Follow John on twitter @pingshoops and like his page on FaceBook for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.