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Hollins: Lopez, Williams still reserves

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets reserves Brook Lopez and Deron Williams had a really big impact in the team’s most impressive win of the season Tuesday night in Chicago. Lopez scored a season-high 29 points, while the Nets were plus-27 with Williams on the court.

But in spite of this, Nets coach Lionel Hollins will continue to bring the $35.7 million tandem of Lopez and Williams off the bench Friday night in Orlando.

“I thought Brook played extremely well, and he’s gonna be a big factor in what we do,” Hollins said. “I just like the other lineup.”

The other lineup Hollins is referring to contains Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee. That lineup is 4-1 together, and the Nets (15-16) have won five of their past six games overall.

“No,” Lopez responded when asked if his disappointed about staying in a reserve role. “We have lots of starters. We have more than five starters, so it’s no big deal.”

Williams just wrapped up a December in which he shot just 28 percent from two-point range. He did, however, play great defense on Derrick Rose, helping the Nets hold the Bulls' star to just 2-for-15 from the field. It’s something he hopes to use as a springboard heading into 2015.

“I’ve never really been a guy that has an ego as far as I’m better than the team,” Williams said. “Whatever [Lionel] wants me to do, I’m a team player, so I’m going to do it. Do I want to play more? Yeah, of course. I’m a competitor. But coming off the bench, starting, it don’t matter.”

The Nets have always been a good first-quarter team, but second quarters have been a huge problem. This is where the changes have really helped the most. In their past two second quarters, the Nets have outscored their opponents 61-30.

Hollins continues to be defiant about his decision to continually bring former All-Stars Williams and Lopez, who have been on the trading block and slow to regain form following injuries, off the bench. He gave a 3-minute, 32-second answer when asked if he’s concerned about possibly bruising egos.

“It’s not a demotion. It really isn’t,” Hollins said during a portion of his answer. “They’re still part of the team. Neither one of them got cut. They both go to the game every day and get paid every two weeks -- and they get paid handsomely.

“I just think it’s basketball and today’s society gets into, ‘Well, he’s a max player so he’s supposed to get all the minutes and get all the shots. Nobody else can shoot the ball. He shouldn’t even play defense. He shouldn’t even do anything but what he’s good at.’ I think basketball has always been a five-man group balanced, playing together, everybody contributing on offense.

“That’s why I’ve been trying to harp on more, it’s about the team, it’s about the Brooklyn Nets, because people keep bringing up Brook and keep bringing up Deron. I love both of those guys and they’ve done well and I expect them to continue to do well and help us win. Roles are fluid anyway, even during the course of games. Joe [Johnson] is shooting a lot in the first half, Brook is shooting a lot in the second half. It’s just the way the game is.”

Notes: The Nets assigned Cory Jefferson and Markel Brown to the Maine Blue Claws of the NBA’s Developmental League, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics. ... Bojan Bogdanovic played just three blowout minutes Tuesday night and appears to be out of the rotation. ... Hollins on why he is optimistic going forward: “The last six games I think we’ve started to come together. Before that we’ve started to come together as a team, but I think the last six games, minus the Indiana game, I thought our defense has been better, our effort has been better, our togetherness has been better. Those are reasons for optimism.”