EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In a season filled with ups and downs, the Brooklyn Nets have gotten a consistent contribution from their bench.
Each month, the Nets have finished in the top 10 in the NBA in bench scoring. Overall, Brooklyn ranks fifth in that category, averaging 38.1 points per game.
“We’ve relied on the bench all season,” Joe Johnson said Saturday. “When our bench is going well, we’re a tough team to beat. It’s been great for us because like you said our starters don’t have to log a lot of minutes and in the playoffs and in the postseason you’re gonna need your bench, so our bench has been solid.”
The Nets’ reserves were at their best in Friday night’s 108-97 win over Cleveland, outscoring the Cavaliers' bench 48-18. Alan Anderson, Andray Blatche and Marcus Thornton all scored in double figures, while Mirza Teletovic nearly had himself a double-double.
Brooklyn, of course, was doing all of this without Andrei Kirilenko, who has played in only 37 games this season due to injury.
“We feel like we’re just as important as the first unit,” Thornton said. “The first unit goes out and does their thing and we feel we have to go out and match their energy or be better and boost the lead up so when they come back in, everything’s in place.
“So every night we huddle up and we talk about it, the second unit. We huddle up before we go in the game and we tell ourselves how big we have to be and every night we play the same way.”
Nets coach Jason Kidd liked hearing Thornton’s answer when asked about it.
“That’s great, that’s great competition about the bench trying to not upstage the starters but play better than the starters,” Kidd said. “When you have that competition within the team, that can only make you better.”