With the Nets star players struggling and Brook Lopez being done for the season, it was important for the role players to step up. Livingston was inserted into the starting lineup with Andray Blatche missing the game due to an injury. The veteran point guard did exactly what the Nets needed for him to do. He took some of the ball handling duties away from Deron Williams and was able to create shots both for himself and for his teammates.
When speaking on the pairing of Livingston and Williams, coach Jason Kidd stated in his post game press conference, "I thought it got us off to a good start. The ball was moving. We were getting great looks."
Mirza Teletovic had been starting since Lopez went down. However, with Blatche missing this game, Kidd decided to change the lineup a bit and go smaller with by adding Livingston and Paul Pierce to go with Williams, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett. The move back to the bench did not hurt Teletovic's performance, who finished with 19 points and six rebounds and was able to stretch the floor by hitting five out of nine three pointers.
Another welcome sight was the performance by veteran guard Jason Terry. The Jet has missed 16 games this season due to injury and has struggled when he's been on the court. Friday night was a different story, though. Terry came off the bench and hit four three pointers and finished the game with 12 points. It's important for the team that Jet gets comfortable as the Nets have missed his spark plug ability.
Veteran big man Reggie Evans also had maybe his best performance of the season. In 20 minutes of action off the bench, Evans led the way with 13 rebounds. His presence on the boards will be needed with Lopez out for the year and Blatche set to miss the next three games.
For the league's worst team, the Milwaukee Bucks, received some very nice performances from two of their young guys. Promising rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo led the team with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
The Bucks received a much needed boost on Friday night with the return of forward/center Larry Sanders. The athletic big man returned from a thumb injury and finished with 10 points, seven boards and two blocks. His ability to get after it on the glass and to alter or block opponents shot attempts has surely been missed by Milwaukee.
The Nets (10-19) led throughout the way despite not being able to quite blowout the Bucks. Now the Nets heart will truly be tested with a three-game road trip ahead that starts Saturday at Indiana, then at San Antonio on Tuesday, and finishes at Oklahoma City on Thursday.
"This is as tough as it's going to get as far as a three-game road trip," said Pierce.
If they can pull off a couple of wins that can go a long way towards turning this team's season around.
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