Pierce presents problems at power forward

DALLAS -- It never helps to lose a veteran like Kevin Garnett, even with his struggles this season.

Luckily, rookie Mason Plumlee and Paul Pierce have been able to step up in place of Garnett.

The Nets have had to implement some different rotations with Garnett out of the mix for the last 11 games. Pierce has slid up to the 4 at times. While he doesn't come up with vintage scoring performances on a regular basis, he's clearly capable of providing a versatile option for his team.

"When you get up into the 12, 13 and 14 years, they don't sometimes post right away," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Right around the turn of the new year, he started to feel a little more comfortable. ... He's been playing great for us up to this point."

As Kidd said, most veteran guys can't rev it up every single night like they used to back in the day, but Pierce is able to give his team what they need.

While his scoring numbers are down, Pierce's efficiency has increased. He's averaging 13.1 points per game since the All-Star Break (a total of 16 games), but his shooting percentages have gone up as he's shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. Part of Pierce's efforts have helped the Nets as they've gone 12-4 since the All-Star Break.

The Dallas Mavericks realize the problem Pierce presents when he slides up to the power forward position.

"It's difficult," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "It's kind of like when they move [Kevin] Durant over to the four for Oklahoma City. You've got that guy who can kill you from 3, who can line up all of the big guys and hit them with the step backs and the drives.

"It's hard. You've got to try to hurt them on the other end, but they do a good job of scrambling around. They cause a lot of problems."

Injuries and a difficult schedule led to a perfect storm of events going against the Nets in the earlier portion of the season. Thanks to the help of Pierce and others, Brooklyn has been able to weather that storm as they try gear up for the playoffs.