Hollins took a risk against the Heat, and it paid off.
Sam Sharpe/Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
The Nets finally won a game, and they did it in an impressive fashion: in Miami against a Heat team vying for a top-two spot in the Eastern Conference. They did it after making a legitimate change to their lineup, too.
The starters in Miami stayed the same, but when coach Lionel Hollins sent his players onto the floor for the second half with a 58-44 deficit, he didn't invite the usual first unit to begin the third period. Instead of Jarrett Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington took the hardwood.
The Nets began the third quarter on a big run and ended up outscoring Miami 34-19 in the period, taking a one-point lead into the fourth. Brooklyn eventually won the game 111-105.
Ellington finished with 26 points on 7-of-9 three-point shooting. Larkin had seven assists.
This had been a long time coming for Brooklyn, whose guards have struggled both to score and create all season. Since this worked so well in the second half, maybe we see the change carry into games in the future. We'll get a better idea of things when the Nets play in Orlando on Wednesday.
“We looked like we were dying,” Hollins said. “I needed a spark, and I had written on a paper to take all five starters out. Then when I walked to the court, I rethought that, and decided to take (just) the guards out.”
“He didn’t say who, or what he was doing,” Larkin said of the halftime speech. “He just said there were going to be some changes. I was out there shooting, and clock runs off, and he’s like, ‘you’re in.” I said ‘alright, whatever, let’s just go play.'”
Larkin and Ellington entered for Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic, and the game’s complexion changed in an instant. Along with Ellington’s shotmaking, Larkin pressured the ball well over the halfcourt line, taking a few ticks off each possession; the Heat went frigid, hitting just five of 17 attempts.
“(Hollins) just said he wanted to switch it up, try to get some more intensity on the defensive side, get some pace with the offense, and that’s what we tried to do,” Larkin said. “Go in there, me and Wayne, push it, whenever we got a rebound, whenever they scored, just try to push the pace, and just impact the game however we can.”