Pelicans stumble out of the gates in loss to Nets
NEW YORK (AP) – Rookie Mason Plumlee and the reserves were flying high, so Brooklyn’s starters took a seat.
Plumlee scored a season-high 22 points and matched his best with 13 rebounds, and the Nets used their best defensive first half in eight years as the springboard for a 93-81 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
Brooklyn held New Orleans to 28 points in the first 24 minutes, its lowest total since also allowing 28 against the Lakers on Nov. 27, 2005. The Nets were fueled by their reserves, with their top three scorers coming off their bench and no starters finishing in double figures.
"Any time we can rest our older guys — it’s no secret we’re old, so we look at this as a win in a couple of ways," Plumlee said. "We can rest them and keep them fresh, and going into All-Star break that’s good."
Mirza Teletovic had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who improved to 13-5 overall and 9-2 at home in 2014. Alan Anderson scored 13 points in the Nets’ first victory in their NBA history with no starters in double figures, according to information provided to them by Elias.
Anthony Davis had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won seven of 10. They used big fourth-quarter comebacks to win their previous two games, but fell too far behind to come back in this one.
"First four or five possessions we just didn’t run our offense with any kind of zeal the way that we’ve been running it at home," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
The Nets jumped to an 11-0 lead while the Pelicans were missing their first seven shots. Brooklyn shot 65 percent to New Orleans’ 25 percent in the period, opening a 29-14 lead on Plumlee’s dunk with 40 seconds remaining.
He kept playing above the rim in the second, soaring to catch Jason Terry’s alley-oop pass with his right hand and slam it down on a fast break — Terry’s 5,000th career assist — and later slamming home the miss of Terry’s 3-point attempt to make it 42-21 with 5:02 to go.
Terry, a former Sixth Man of the Year winner, said the reserves were disappointed in their performance the last two games.
"Our job as a bench is to come out and make an impact on the game, and we did that tonight and J-Kidd rewarded us with lengthy playing time," Terry said, referring to coach Jason Kidd. "So felt good, we got the win and we must continue to get better as a unit."
The Pelicans were on an embarrassing pace of a barely a point per minute for most of the half, trailing 48-21 more than 20 minutes in, and the Nets led 51-28 at the break.
New Orleans briefly trimmed it to single digits during a 32-point third quarter, but the Nets quickly finished them off early in the fourth, again with Plumlee and the reserves on the floor.
The Pelicans, who were playing the first of three straight on the road while the NBA readies their arena to host next weekend’s All-Star festivities, had easily their worst first half of the season and shot just 56 percent from the foul line for the game.
"We just didn’t play (well) tonight," Davis said. "We know it. Coaches know it. Everybody knows it."
Tyreke Evans, the former Rookie of the Year who the Pelicans signed during the offseason, didn’t play. Williams called it an "internal" issue.
Brooklyn improved to 9-9 against Western Conference teams, joining Indiana and Miami as only East teams with a .500 or better mark against the stronger side.
The Nets host Charlotte on Wednesday, then play seven straight on the road and aren’t back at Barclays Center until March 3.
Notes: Nets center Kevin Garnett had to leave the game early in the third quarter after a foul from Alexis Ajinca drew blood. He returned shortly after with a bandage on the left side of his head. … Brook Lopez, who was leading the Nets in scoring before he was lost for the season after breaking his right foot again, said he isn’t worried about his future. "I’m not scared at all. I’m confident I’m going to get back on the floor and I’m going to do everything I can," he said. "There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be out back on that floor playing with my guys." … New Orleans fell to 13-6 against the East.