Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins addressed the media after the Nets’ huge 106-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On the key points of the game, Hollins said, “It was a lot of good points to point to. First of all, I thought Markel (Brown) did a heck of a job early defensively and making a couple of shots, and stacking the basket, which got us rolling. We did an outstanding job in the first quarter, and the game was nip-and-tuck the whole way. Then we got to the fourth quarter, obviously we outtscored them 27-19, but I thought one of the keys, they went small a couple of times, and we had our right matches in the game. I had taken Joe (Johnson) out early, and knew when LeBron (James) came back out, I was gonna bring him back in at four (minutes) – I knew he would come back at four and he did – and I played him at four with (Kevin) Love – and Love didn’t hurt us too bad, he made some buckets. But the big key was when they went LeBron at the four, Love at the five in the fourth quarter; Brook was able to stay in the game. He guarded Love, kept him from getting lined up for shots, he was good in the pick-and-rolls, and we executed.
Hollins said of Earl Clark, who the Nets signed to a 10-day contract on Friday afternoon and scored 7 points in the game, “I have to give kudos to Earl Clark, who I didn’t play in the first half, and I remember telling you guys I wasn’t afraid to play him. My grandmother used to say, ‘a scared man can’t win,’ so I put him in the game. I said ‘what the heck,’ and I put him in the game and he was huge. He made some big shots for us and kept us afloat.
Hollins continued, “I think the key to the game, we just kept scoring throughout the course of the game, and eventually they stopped scoring and we didn’t, and we spread it out and got to the 10-point lead. It was a big, big team victory, and it was a home victory, which I’m happy about, and the way we played as well. That makes me really proud of the group, and happy as well.”
Hollins said of sustained production from the team, “Well, that’s the way you win. It’s a team game and you need everybody to win. Some nights the best players are going, some nights they’re not, and you need other people to step up and make plays for them to bail them out. That’s what this game is all about.”
On deciding to keep Earl Clark in the game into the fourth, Hollins said, “Well, cause I was afraid to keep him out. I was afraid to leave him in, and I was afraid to take him out. The reality was, after he made the shot, I decided to just let him go. I didn’t feel comfortable at first watching him, and then after he made the shot, he looked comfortable, and then he did something on the defensive end, and the I said, ‘come on back out,’ and let him have some time. I didn’t want the game to get away from us – I think we were down 65-63 at the time but as it worked out, he got in the flow.”
On Joe Johnson tonight vs. the prior few games, Hollins said, “I don’t want to talk about the last few games. Joe had a great game tonight, out team had a great game tonight, and that’s all I’m focused on. If you want to ask what we’re gonna do on the Lakers Sunday – I don’t want to talk about that either.”
On not having a lull in the scoring, Hollins said, “Yeah, and I thought our defense was really good. We talked a lot at shoot-around this morning about the breakdown that we had in Cleveland, when we had the lead and they went small, and the adjustments that we wanted to make, and we were able to make them. LeBron made some great plays, Kyrie Irving was just sensational down the stretch, keeping them close, and we battled through all that. We kept scoring, we kept scoring, and eventually we started getting some stops and rebounds and we spread it around and got the 10-point lead.”
On whether the Cavaliers’ Big Three (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love) performance was based on what they were doing or how the game was played, Hollins said, “Probably the way the game played out. I think that we made their guys have to step up and play by the way we were playing. Usually if they feel like they can facilitate more, they will, they felt like that tonight – I thought LeBron came out, he knew he had to come and attack, he could sense that we were going to be playing well. He came out and he attacked early, and he got a couple of offensive fouls that slowed him down a little bit. But I think they had the right mindset because they could sense our mindset and how we were playing.”