Losing Spencer Dinwiddie to a torn ACL just three games into the season has provided the Nets’ reserves with an early opportunity to prove the team is as deep as they’ve claimed.
And despite dropping their last two games – the most recent being an overtime loss to the Grizzlies on Monday with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving resting on the tail end of a back-to-back – the Nets feel that Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has seized that opportunity.
“TLC has just been really steady,” head coach Steve Nash said after Monday’s loss. “Very trustworthy defensively. Knows the system. Is very attentive to his responsibilities, and he’s been shooting the ball. He’s played within himself. He’s doing very well.”
Luwawu-Cabarrot started just two of the 47 regular-season games he played with the Nets last season, his first in Brooklyn. He appeared to be destined for a similar role this year after coming off the bench in the first three games, but the 25-year-old was promoted to the starting lineup Monday, along with Caris LeVert, in the wake of Dinwiddie’s injury Sunday and the team’s decision to sit Irving and Durant.
In 40 minutes, just two minutes shy of Joe Harris’ game-high 42 minutes, Luwawu-Cabarrot recorded 21 points, six rebounds and two steals as the Nets fell to 2-2.
After recently claiming individual performances don’t mean anything if it results in a loss, Luwawu-Cabarrot was asked if he was able to take anything away from the last two games.
“[It’s] always great to learn and especially losses like that, where I personally made a few mistakes at the end of the stretch,” he said. “It’s good to take the mistakes, learn from it, move on. And obviously hope for a better result. But you got to take it and learn from it.”
Luwawu-Cabarrot said he hadn’t spoken with Nash specifically about a new role in Dinwiddie’s absence, but he appears to be one of the first bench players the Nets feel they can turn to.
Nash and several of his Nets teammates have said they’ve been impressed with Luwawu-Cabarrot through training camp this year. But the 6-foot-7 Frenchman really established himself during the 2020 playoffs in the Orlando bubble, when he averaged 16 points per game before the Nets were swept in the first round by the Raptors.
Luwawu-Cabarrot has continued to prove his versatility this season, stepping up and contributing no matter when he enters the game. He didn’t check into Sunday’s loss in Charlotte until the fourth quarter, but came in and scored 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 performance from the field.
“Tim played really well [Monday],” LeVert said. “Being confident, knocking down shots. That’s not easy to do. Especially what he did [Sunday], sitting the whole game and then coming in and knocking down three huge threes. I think it was three threes he made in that game, and then [Monday], same thing. As soon as he checked in the game, he shoots his next shot as if the last shot didn’t happen.
“All you can ask of a shooter is a short memory, and just let it fly. I think he’s done a great job of just getting better since he’s been with us and he’s expanded his game a little bit as well.”
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