Mason Plumlee shows his playoff worth as Nets trounce Magic, 97-88
Two hours before Sunday night's game, Nets coach Jason Kidd spoke about how difficult it will be to find sufficient minutes for his three big men -- Kevin Garnett, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee -- once the playoffs begin.
Fifteen minutes after the game, Kidd was looking at Plumlee's statistics sheet, marveling at yet another dynamic performance that proved his point.
The rookie from Duke had 17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in the Nets' 97-88 victory over the Magic at Barclays Center. He shot 6-for-8 from the field and is 38-for-46 in April.
Plumlee is so hot, he even got credited with two points for a ball the Magic's Dewayne Dedmon accidentally tipped into the wrong basket, because he was the closest Net to the play.
Now what, though?
Garnett, who scored three points in 19 minutes Sunday night, surely will start when the playoffs open this weekend, and Blatche is a veteran presence.
"There are 48 minutes [in a game],'' Kidd said. "I don't know if I can play all three of them, but we'll try to play all three. But . . . in the first round, where it's spread out, KG has a little bit more rest, so we'll see. Sometimes there might be an odd guy out. That's just the way it goes.''
Kidd did experiment against the Magic with two of the three men on the court at the same time, saying he "wanted to see how it looked.''
So how did it look?
"It was all right. It can get better.''
Plumlee thought the players "handled it well.'' Regardless of who is on the court with him, he said he is ready and willing to play as much as Kidd will have him.
"I rested early in the season, so I'm good to go,'' he said, recalling his time on the bench before Brook Lopez was lost for the season. "I tell J all the time I have plenty of minutes for him.''
He had 26 of them against Orlando, one of nine Nets who saw at least 18 minutes of action. That included 19 for forward Paul Pierce, who gave the team a scare when he departed for good with 8:03 left in the third quarter with an apparent neck injury after being struck on the right side by the Magic's Kyle O'Quinn.
Pierce did not speak to reporters after the game. Kidd said he could have put him back in the game but chose not to because others were playing well. He expects him to play against the Knicks Tuesday night. "There was no reason to put him in harm's way,'' Kidd said.
Mirza Teletovic led the Nets with 20 points off the bench. Joe Johnson scored 17 and Deron Williams 16. Williams appeared to be limping in the locker room but said he was "fine.'' Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson did not play.
Former Half Hollow Hills West star Tobias Harris led the Magic (23-57) with 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Nets had 23 turnovers and the Magic 19.
The Nets (44-36) trailed 49-46 at halftime but used a 15-0 run in the third quarter to turn a 59-55 deficit into a 70-59 lead they never relinquished, eventually leading by 13.
Kidd re-inserted most of his starters after the Magic got within 87-81 with 5:27 left, and that settled the home team and the victory.
The Nets have won 16 of their last 17 home games and have clinched no lower than the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Most likely they will finish fifth and visit either the Bulls or Raptors this weekend.
Both of those teams have big front lines. Hmm . . .