Nets rookie guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may not be getting the attention of the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, but he was doing a solid job in the starting lineup before he suffered a severe ankle injury at practice on Saturday.
The injury was diagnosed on Monday as a non-displaced fracture of the posterior talus in his right ankle.
Hollis-Jefferson will be having surgery this week and a timetable for his return will be established following the procedure.
In 19 games, 14 of which were starts, Hollis-Jefferson has averaged 5.2 points, 6.1 rebounds (fourth among qualifying rookies), 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals (first among qualifying rookies) in 22.1 minutes per game. He’s scored in double figures three times, recorded double-digit rebounds five times and is the only rookie in the league to register a five-steal game , which he did twice.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said on Tuesday afternoon of what he felt when he heard the news about Hollis-Jefferson, “Disappointment, you know, he was coming on, he was gaining experience. It hurts us because of what he provided for us on the team and it also just for his development, having to sit out for 10 weeks, not really engaged with the team, and we’ll be that much further along when he comes back. The season will be that much further along and he has to get engaged again and get caught up, so disappointing.”
Hollins said of what Hollis-Jefferson did well, “Everybody can rebound, I think what Rondae brought from playing the two-guard, he really rebounded his position. There’s only a few guys that play the wings that really rebound like that, and I think that’s gonna be one of the traits of his career is to go rebound, contribute eight, nine, 10, 11 rebounds, I think he had as many as 12 or 13, so that’s something that you just have a knack for and you do it, it’s nothing that can be replaced. It’s that everybody has to step up and be more of a factor in that area.”
The Nets will be going with Bojan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup. So far this season, he is averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Even though Bogdanovic has had a slow start to this season, he is the best option to start because he did it at times successfully last season and he is by far the best player on a very thin Nets bench.
Bogdanovic’s first start of the season came on Sunday against Golden State and he had five points on 2-7 from the field, 1-3 on threes, with four rebounds.
Tuesday night against Houston was a different story, as Bogdanovic lit it up for 19 points on 8-or-16 from the field, including three three-pointers, with five rebounds and an assist. He was also a season-high +16, meaning the Nets scored that many more points than Houston when he was on the floor.
The Nets won it 110-105, as Brook Lopez led the way with 24 points (9-14 FG) and eight rebounds. Joe Johnson had his best game of the season, with 22 points on an impressive 9-for-15 from the field, including two threes, five rebounds, and eight assists. Thaddeus Young had a double-double with 20 points (10-13 FG) and 12 rebounds.
Hollins said of Bgdnaovic’s performance, “He made shots and he was aggressive, but we found him a few times and he got some easy shots and some runoffs. But it you remember, he also played well when we played them in Houston, so maybe he likes playing against Houston. We would like to hope that this is a turn-on switch for him to have a series of games where he scores in double figures and shoots the ball well.”
Lopez said of Bogdanovic’s game and whether that mitigates the loss of Hollis-Jefferson, “It does, but what Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) does is really irreplacaeable. He brings something intangible with so much energy. But we did do a good job of bringing energy as a group for the majority of the game. Bogie (Bogdanovic) stepped into the starting role and definitely responded. He was huge for us. We absolutely needed him to play like that, and he did.”
The Nets got just their sixth win of the season, and two of those have come against the struggling Rockets. The first time they beat them, which was their first win of the season, came on November 11 in Houston.
Lopez said of feeling that the Nets needed a win like this, in a game in which they dominated throughout, “No question. I mean, we’re not really in a situation to turn away wins. We have to come out and play every night and we did tonight. We just need to be more consistent.”