Nerlens Noel has solid Nets debut in victory
HOUSTON – After Nerlens Noel’s first NBA action in a month, and his first game with the Nets, he was tired and winded. And, as Michael Bridges reminded him from across the winning locker room, unbeatable.
Noel signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Monday, and coach Jack Vaughan committed to playing him on Tuesday.
Vaughn did just that, playing Noel 17:48 in the Nets’ 118–96 win over the Rockets, his first game since a 3:22 cameo for Detroit on February 8, his final appearance with the Pistons before he was traded and excused
“It felt good,” said Noel, 28, an ex-Nick. “It was nice to get some rust off. Yes, a little windy in the first few minutes, but that’s normal. No one can escape from it. But I am doing a fair share. But at this point I just want to build on that, defense-first mentality, rebounding, just try and make sure I bring a winning mentality to the game.
Noel helped net the cruise.
“I wanted to see if Nerlens could play in a basketball game and contribute and be able to pick up what we’re doing as a group. If he can protect the rim, look at his quickness as well,” Vaughn said. “He is 10 days old [contract], so I decided to use one of those 10 days to see what he was going to give us. Therefore [this] It was night.”
Noel also helped spare starter Nick Claxton, who had 18 points, 13 boards and a game-high plus-23 in 28:55 minutes. Vaughan said Claxton has been overused, and with Ben Simmons injured, Noel should minimize the need to use Yuta Watanabe and Royce O’Neal as small-ball five backups.
“Even before I got here [Claxton] One of my favorite big ones to watch was similar styles, especially early on. And he’s just getting better and better,” Noel said. “I’m in his corner and I want to help him continue to develop in the right way. He is bowling. He has a different thing, winning the basketball, winning the play. “
One of the side effects of Noel was that Cam Thomas fell out of the rotation, at least temporarily.
“I wanted to see where [Noel] On the Obviously Cam Thomas didn’t play because of this. So I didn’t want to get too far into the rotation,” Vaughn said. “So basically just swapped the Nerlens for the cam. Dorian Defense [Finney-Smith] Five positions away to see what it would look like if we were older.
Bridges had his right wrist wrapped after his 30-point game on Tuesday. He took a knock on the wrist against the Hornets on Sunday, but said he’s fine.
Edmund Sumner rejoined the Nets after his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Amara. He weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces.
“Everything went well, everybody’s good, wife and kid,” Sumner, who didn’t play, told the Post.
“Nothing like being a father. So happy for him. Excited for that. Glad he’s back with us,” Vaughn said. “Great, but he’ll definitely learn to appreciate sleep on the road.”
Long Island won its 15th straight game – the third-longest streak in G-League history – and has already clinched a playoff spot.