Nets may shake up rotation, play Blatche, Lopez together

Andray Blatche has served as backup for Brook Lopez most of the season. Credit: NBAE/Getty Images
Andray Blatche has served as backup for Brook Lopez most of the season.
Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo didn’t exactly release his new rotation on a silver platter yesterday, but he did hint at pairing centers Andray Blatche and Brook Lopez together.

“It’s something that I’d like to look at more, but there’s more teaching,” Carlesimo said after practice yesterday. “It’ll probably fall on Dray at the four spot. The four spot is not that different. It’s not different than the five spot in a lot of the things we do. … It’s kind of hard to expect him to know everything. We have to look at what menu of things we would call in that situation and try to anticipate as many of the defensive things as we could.”

Whenever it happens, Blatche will spend time at power forward while Lopez will be at center. Blatche has spent this season as the team’s backup center to Lopez, but before coming to Brooklyn he played power forward for seven seasons with the Wizards.

He sounded enthusiastic about the possible pairing and the potential it may present when teams decide to double team Lopez in the low post. If that happens, that will likely keep Blatche open for 15 to 19 footers, where he is shooting 45 percent (27-of-60).

“It’s going to be easier for me,” Blatche said. “If Brook gets the ball and they decide to double team, that’s where I can get my open shot or just hit the glass. Playing with him will make my job a lot easier because he gets so much attention.

Blatche is having a bounce-back season after signing a one-year deal with the Nets in September. He averaged a career-high 16.8 points two years ago but slipped to 8.5 points per game in 26 games for the Wizards while he was benched due to a lack of conditioning.

The pairing has happened for a total of just 60 minutes this season. The most notable instance occurred Jan. 30 against Miami when the duo was effective for the final 5:08 of the second quarter as they combined for eight points and the Nets outscored Miami 14-7 in an eventual 105-85 loss.

“It spreads the floor more so people have the opportunity to penetrate,” Blatche said. “Brook is a great player. I love playing with him. Even today in practice, it’s tough to defend — so many weapons, so many options and it definitely gives us length

It is also a pairing point guard Deron Williams would not mind seeing, especially since it gives him two options for running pick-and-roll plays.

“It’ll be good because it hasn’t really happened much this year,” Williams said. “I think last game I can’t really recall, but I don’t remember it happening much before last game. I think it’s a good strategy — a look we haven’t tried. The way the things have been going lately it doesn’t hurt to try it.”

Assuming Blatche and Lopez are paired together, the Nets should get more offensive production at power forward. Reggie Evans can rebound and defend, but he’s scored just eight points while shooting 2-for-19 in his last eight games. If those numbers aren’t bad enough for Net fans to digest, Evans has been blocked on 22 percent of his field-goal attempts and is shooting 49.6 percent on layups, according to basketball-reference.com.

Evans was signed for his rebounding and defense and expected to contibute 10 to 15 minutes per night, but is averaging 23 minutes due to the ineffectiveness of Kris Humphries.

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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