He and his fellow teammates who come off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets are a big reason why.
The Nets' reserves, who averaged just 27.5 points in the first six games of their first-round series with the Toronto Raptors, exploded for 38 points in Brooklyn’s 104-103 victory over Toronto in Game 7 on Sunday afternoon at Air Canada Centre.
Andray Blatche scored nine of the Nets' 38 bench points Sunday.
“When I said that, I said we’re going to guarantee a win [in Game 7], because I was positive we were confident that we were going to win as a team,” Blatche said. “I’m not going to have any doubt in the back of my head that we’re going to come in here and lose. So that’s why I said that.”
Marcus Thornton, who had scored just 17 points all series, scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half. Shaun Livingston hit all four of his first-half shots and added 10 points, while Blatche chipped in eight.
“Just being aggressive, man,” said Thornton, who went 4-for-6 from 3-point range. “The first couple games, I caught myself thinking too much. It’s my first time here, and I was kind of nervous a little bit.
“As games went on, I kind of found a niche every game. It probably wasn’t good, but I did something better every game. This game, I just wanted to take it to another level. I was beating myself up earlier this morning, late last night, saying ‘You gotta do something, you gotta do something.’ Thank god the shots went down.”
Nets coach Jason Kidd loved the contribution that his team got from its bench.
“I thought Thornton was great for us early on and throughout the whole game,” Kidd said. “He was knocking down shots, he was rebounding but everybody, again, played a part in this series to help us win. No matter if I played 11 or 12 guys or nine guys everybody was a part of the win.”
The Nets can’t afford for their bench to be inconsistent against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in Round 2.
“We have to bring energy off the bench. Energy and help the starters out,” Blatche said. “This has been a long series and their bodies is beat up a little bit, so we had to come in and step up our stuff.”