Something Different Pays Off for Nets

Nets bounce back after Sixers disaster and without Joe Johnson

On Monday night, P.J. Carlesimo defended himself against criticism for choosing to stick with Reggie Evans against the Sixers by pointing to the matchup problems created by Philly forward Thaddeus Young. 

On Tuesday night against the Hornets, Carlesimo decided to create the matchup problems instead of whining about them. Carlesimo finally dropped the curtain and unveiled the Brook Lopez-Andray Blatche frontcourt in the second half. 

The results for the team (108-98 win) and the duo were very promising. The duo combined for 44 points and 10 rebounds and they forced the Hornets to react at both ends of the floor in a way that threw them off of what they wanted to do. 

Offensively, playing the two bigs together opened up a lot of space for Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks and the rest of the guards who were playing while Joe Johnson rested his foot. Defensively, their presence ensured no easy trips to the hoop and forced the Hornets to hit from the perimeter if they were going to keep up on the scoreboard. 

The Hornets were able to do that well enough through three quarters, but they faded in the fourth and the Nets overwhelmed them in a way that they could not do against the Sixers. It's hard to see much to explain the different results other than the fact that the Nets asserted themselves instead of playing reactive basketball. 

When a team wants to play at a slow pace the way the Nets do, having a pair of big men on the court makes a ton of sense because it offers you several options to set picks and several ways to enter the ball into the post to create other activity. That's just what wound up happening on Tuesday, which makes it hard to understand why Carlesimo was insistent after the game that this would still be a limited look for the team. 

There are obvious matchup concerns to consider with the double big men, especially against teams that play with athletic, smaller players at power forward. But those teams will also have to figure out how to deal with two big men on the other end of the floor and Williams should be able to exploit those problems for a lot of easy baskets. 

Some nights might find the opposition winning that battle, but it is worth a shot for the Nets to at least try playing as many of their best players at the same time in an effort to finally stop cycling between wins and losses and take advantage of a Knicks team that's been scuffling along for more than two months.

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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