Brooklyn's "Bench Mob" leads the way in home win over Toronto
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 16,774 fans that made their way to the Barclays Center on Monday night had to be at least a bit disappointed when four of the Nets' five regular starters were given the night off in advance of the team's much-anticipated playoff opener this weekend.
"The Bench Mob" made sure every one of those Brooklynites went home happy.
Andray Blatche scored 20 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and rookie Tyshawn Taylor buried a clutch 3-pointer with 23 seconds to play as the Nets' subsitutes rallied for a 106-101 victory over the Washington Wizards in Brooklyn's penultimate regular-season game of the season.
"We took advantage of the young guys' energy," Blatche said. "We let the young guys play and more importantly, we got the win. It's all about giving them the opportunity to play and prove themselves."
"I'm so happy that we're (in the playoffs), but I was looking forward to [Monday] because this was my game, this was my playoffs," added Taylor, who finished with a career-best 14 points after spending most of his first NBA campaign shuffling back and forth between the Nets' bench and the NBA's Developmental League. "I just wanted to go out there, have fun and show everyone what I could do a little bit."
With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans and Brook Lopez watching from the bench as the fourth-seeded Nets rest up for their weekend Game 1 on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue against either Chicago or Atlanta, Brooklyn's super subs overcame a 17-point first-half deficit.
"It feels great just to play and it's always great to do something for the first time," said rookie forward Tornike Shengalia after posting his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Power forward Kris Humphries, who began the season in the starting rotation only to find himself seeing less and less playing time, had 20 points and nine rebounds. The soon-to-be-ex Mr. Kardashian, along with Blatche, will certainly see action in the upcoming playoffs, and made his bid to regain interim coach P.J. Carlesimo's confidence with his best scoring output of the year.
"We're not going to be successful in the playoffs if we don't get the Kris Humphries we know," Carlesimo said, citing Humphries' double-double average over the previous three seasons. "The more time he gets, the more success he gets. We better get play from him like this."
Mirza Teletovic scored 14 points, MarShon Brooks had 12 and C.J. Watson added 11 for Brooklyn, which will probably know after Wednesday's regular-season home finale against Detroit whether it will host the Hawks or Bulls in Game 1 this weekend.
"Me, Marshon, our two European friends (Teletovic and Shengalia) were just excited to play," said Taylor, who knows he will likely be glued to the bench for most of the postseason.
The only Nets starter to get the opening nod Monday was Gerald Wallace, who had missed the previous two games with a leg contusion and is anxious to get his game going in advance of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the forward managed only two points in 23 minutes after admitting last week that he just hasn't been feeling his shot.
Carlesimo also intimated that the starters may see some playing time against the Pistons on Wednesday so they don't get rusty before opening the playoffs, where they'll all be expected to log major minutes.
But the "Bench Mob", as it has been all year long for the Nets, will be there ready to roll no matter what.
Hoop du Jour: The bombings at the Boston Marathon have caused security concerns throughout the globe, and the Barclays Center certainly had a heightened police and security presence prior to Monday night's game. That figures to be the case again Wednesday night and throughout the playoffs as well. Fans and media were already accustomed to having their packages inspected and getting screened for weapons and other metal objects prior to Monday's tragic events. ... Veteran Gs Jerry Stackhouse (neck) and Keith Bogans (back) also sat out Monday night, but both could see action Wednesday, according to Carlesimo. ... The Nets will shoot for their 25th home win in Wednesday's finale, but are likely holding the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed based on their solid 23-18 road mark. Only the top-seeded defending NBA champion Miami Heat (29) and Atlantic Division champion Knicks (also 23) have as many road victories among Eastern Conference teams this season.