NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 29: Mason Plumlee #1 of the Brooklyn Nets fights for the ball with DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings in the second half at the Barclays Center on December 29, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex
AP Photo
December 29, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) Lionel Hollins might have a pair of starters coming off the bench making a combined $35 million, but he's not about to tinker with his lineup now that the Brooklyn Nets are starting to play better.

With center Brook Lopez and point guard Deron Williams reduced to reserve roles while recovering from injuries, Mason Plumlee continued his impressive play with 20 points, Jarrett Jack had 16, and the Nets beat the Sacramento Kings 107-99 on Monday night.

''This is the Brooklyn Nets. Brook and Deron, yes, they were starters. They've been out and if you note, while they were out, we started playing better and winning,'' Hollins said. ''So why would I go back and change the lineup for now? I would hope that they would play better and they did.''

Lopez chipped in 11 points for the Nets, who bounced back from a 25-point loss to Indiana on Saturday night at Barclays Center and won for the fourth time in their last five games.

''I think that starting group has a great rhythm and things come easy when you're in unison and guys are really setting me up well,'' said Plumlee.

He has started the last 11 games at center averaging 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds while Lopez has come off the bench the last four games after suffering a lower back strain Dec. 5

Williams, whose career with the Nets has been hampered by ankle injuries, strained his right calf during a game at Cleveland on Dec. 8 and missed two games. Jack took over, averaging 19.4 points and 5.4 assists.

''We're winning man, that's all that matters,'' Williams said. ''We have team guys. We're not selfish. We're not bigger than the team. That first group is definitely rocking right now.''

Brooklyn scored 25 points off 21 turnovers by the Kings, who dropped the first game of a four-game road trip.

Rudy Gay had 25 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Kings, who've lost 13 of their last 17 games.

Since Sacramento coach Tyrone Corbin replaced Mike Malone on Dec. 15, the Kings have gone 2-5.

Cousins is having an All-Star worthy season and came into the night averaging 29.3 points and 11 rebounds in his previous four games. He thought that the Kings needed to show more ''urgency'' and ''act like we cared.''

''I'll put it like this, when you go through situations like this and things get tough, you start to see people's . true colors. You're going to see who's really in it and who's really not,'' Cousins said. ''As bad as this may seem, it's also a good thing because you're going to know who's ready to go to battle with you every night.''

The Nets led 93-83 with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter after a layup by Williams, but Gay then scored five straight points in a 26-second span, including a 3-pointer, that cut the lead to 93-88 with 5:12 to play.

Reserve forward Mirza Teletovic led an 8-2 run with a pair of 3-pointers and Plumlee scored on a layup that increased Brooklyn's lead to 101-90 with 3:29 to go. After a Sacramento timeout, Cousins' thunderous dunk reduced the deficit to 101-92 before Plumlee answered with a dunk of his own that made it 103-92.

Collison then scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws after Teletovic fouled him on a 3-point attempt, cutting the lead to 103-97 with 43.6 seconds left. But Jack and Johnson combined to hit four straight free throws that put the game out of reach for the Kings.



Kings: Guard Ramon Sessions missed his third straight game due to a lower back strain. . Collison had 16 points and eight assists.

Nets: Williams shot 2-for-6 and scored six points off the bench. . Plumlee converted 10 of 16 from the free throw line. . The Nets took a 57-44 lead at halftime thanks to an 11-0 run in which nine of those points were aided by four turnovers. . Brooklyn is 5-2 in the first game of a back-to-back.


Kevin Garnett, 38, showed he could get up in the air, converting an alley-oop at the end of the second quarter. ''I know I'm like 150 years in dog years, but I can actually dunk the ball,'' Garnett said. ''My daughter was like daddy you dunked.''


Kings: Continue their four-game road trip in Boston on Wednesday.

Nets: Play the second game of a back-to-back at Chicago on Tuesday.

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