Nets coach Avery Johnson elected to start Gerald Wallace at power forward, relegating Humphries, who has started 20 games at the position, to a reserve role. Keith Bogans started in Wallace’s normal spot at small forward.
Wallace had 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in 37 minutes. Bogans had a season-high 13 points in 35 minutes.
"It’s basically a coach’s decision," said Johnson, who visited with Humphries in his office to deliver the news. "It has nothing to do with Humphries. He’s healthy. He’s fine. He’s not in the doghouse. We just had to try something else, and we’ll see how long we can go with it."
Johnson said the lineup change was implemented over the last two days.
"It helped us. You saw the way Gerald ignited the break for us. Basically over 60 percent of the league is playing this way (with a small lineup)," Johnson said. "We’ve had spacing issues, we’ve had a lot of issues where we went back and looked at our offense over the first 25 games. No matter who they started at four, Gerald was going to start at four."
Humphries answered in a professional manner when asked about the demotion.
"Obviously anyone wants to start and play as much as possible," he said. "You’re obviously frustrated, but it’s about more than just one player.
"(Avery) said that he was starting Gerald and basically it was going to be inconsistent for me for a little while (with regards to playing time). I didn’t really know I was going to be a DNP, but you gotta be ready to handle anything in the NBA."
Wallace says he’s fine with the position switch.
"I’m kind of used to playing at the four and banging with the bigs,” he said. “I’ve played a full season at the power forward position. It’s not like it’s new to me, but whatever helps the team."
Wallace said Humphries will see time in the frontcourt. But it’s going to be tough for him to get minutes with Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche ahead of him on the depth chart at center and Wallace and Reggie Evans ahead of him at power forward.
Humphries, who had averaged a double-double in each of the previous two seasons, is in the first year of a two-year, $24 million contract he signed in the offseason. He is averaging just 7.1 points and 7.4 rebounds and shooting 44.4 percent in 25 games this season.