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Saturday, July 5, 2014
Plumlee plucks Pacers in Summer opener

By Mike Mazzeo



Mason Plumlee picked up right where he left off as a rookie Saturday morning, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the Brooklyn Nets' 101-81 victory over the Indiana Pacers in their Summer League opener in Orlando, Florida.

Plumlee’s freakish athleticism was on full display. He stepped into passing lanes and recorded some steals, which led to easy transition baskets. He hit a running hook shot. He even jumped off the wrong foot and finished a left-handed layup.

Mason Plumlee
Mason Plumlee said he was "blindsided" by coach Jason Kidd's abrupt departure.
The only thing he didn’t do? Shoot from outside the paint. Plumlee took eight shots from outside the paint last season. He did not make any of them.

As his former coach, Jason Kidd, may have put it, “It’s a process.” Kidd, of course, bolted for Milwaukee.

“I was blindsided [by Kidd's departure],” Plumlee told reporters in Orlando, according to the Bergen Record. “Like a defensive end [hit me].”

Lionel Hollins has replaced Kidd at the helm in Brooklyn.

“Welcome to the NBA,” Plumlee said on NBATV. “I had a great time playing for Jason. I wish him the best in Milwaukee, and I’m excited to play for Coach Hollins.”

Hollins should be just as excited to coach Plumlee, who brings a nice element of youthful exuberance to a roster laden with veterans.

Plumlee didn’t receive much playing time early in his first season. Injuries changed that.

Plumlee became a key piece in the Nets’ turnaround in 2013-14, igniting the crowd with several ferocious dunks. This offseason, he said he’s been working hard with big men coach Roy Rogers to expand his offensive repertoire.

Plumlee considers himself fortunate to have been selected by the Nets with the 22nd pick in the draft. After all, how many players get to learn from the likes of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?

“They’re the best. I can’t really can’t explain how much those guys -- Kevin and Paul -- spent with me outside of just the games, whether it be talking on the plane, the bus, pregame scouting, whatever it was,” Plumlee said. Those guys went out of their way to help me all season, and you want to live up to what they gave you. They gave me a lot, they invested a lot in me, and they expect me to improve each year. It was really a blessing to have those guys as my vets my first year.”

Rookie watch: Markel Brown was the standout among the second-rounders. He can jump, as evidenced by his two-handed dunk in the first quarter, when he filled the lane and was rewarded in transition. Brown went 1-for-5 from 3-point range, but he had a couple of nice passes and played pretty good defense. He obviously has a long way to go, but this was a quality start. Cory Jefferson had six points and nine rebounds, while Xavier Thames went 0-for-3 from the field.

Coach 'em up: Assistant John Welch coached the team, though Kidd is hoping to persuade Welch to join him on his staff with the Bucks. Assistants Rogers and Jim Sann are also down in Orlando coaching.