Brooklyn Nets' Bench Shows Up High-Priced Starting Five

By Brad Stephens
Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans rolled into their matchup with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday expecting a big dose of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. What the Pelicans received was heaping helping of Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee in a 93-81 loss.

Nothing seemed to go right for the Pelicans from the opening tip. New Orleans had an paltry 28 points at the half, the lowest point total allowed by the Nets since 2005. Other than a third-quarter run that brought the Pelicans within seven, the game was never in doubt. All-Star Anthony Davis was the lone bright spot for the Pelicans with 24 points and nine rebounds.

The Pelicans fell to 22-28 and maintained their last-place standing in the Southwest Division. The Nets are in second place in the Atlantic Division despite a 23-26 record.

On a night where no Nets starter scored or rebounded in double-figures, the Brooklyn bench picked up the slack in a major way, scoring 59 of the team’s 93 points. Plumlee terrorized the Pelicans all night with pick-and-rolls, tough rebounding alley-oop dunks that had the courtside cameras flashing. He scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

Two of those 22 points resulted in the 5,000th career assist for teammate and longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. Teletovic also totaled a double-double for the evening with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Anderson chipped in 13 points, and Kirilenko provided solid perimeter defense to set the tone for the game.

In fact, the Pelicans’ third-quarter run was achieved against the starting five, who were removed in the fourth quarter to make way for the more energetic and successful reserves. Pierce and Garnett each logged less than 20 minutes on the court. Johnson, Brooklyn’s lone All-Star, totaled just eight points on a 3-for-7 shooting night.

Jason Kidd has to be encouraged by the strong bench play, but also concerned with the lack of energy from his highly-paid starting five. Sunday’s poor showing was a carryover from an ugly loss to the Detroit Pistons last Friday. $68 million worth of starting NBA talent tipped off the game for Brooklyn on Sunday, but $12 million worth of bench players sealed the game.

With the All-Star break approaching, the Nets need to evaluate how to get more bang for their buck.

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