Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hollins Putting the Pieces Together

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hollins Putting the Pieces Together

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- Since his first day on the job, Lionel Hollins has made it clear that he doesn't like talking about individual players.

The Nets' coach doesn't evaluate his players, or his competition, as singular pieces. He evaluates how all those pieces fit together.

It was that way when Hollins was a guard on the Trail Blazers' championship team in 1977. That's how it was when he coached the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference finals in 2012-13.

"It's always been about the team," Hollins said. "Every coach I've played for, all the way back to bitty ball, it's always about the team. And nobody was bigger than the team. And everybody had equal responsibility for the team's success, no matter what the roles were."

But in his first year as Nets coach, Hollins admitted Saturday that it hasn't always been easy to get his message through.

"The first thing is earning respect," Hollins said. "And this team has been a challenge because there's a lot of veteran guys, guys who have been in the league a long time, guys who have had success. And my challenge was to sell them on the team success."

And so it seems fitting that the Nets' best stretch of basketball this season -- six wins in their past seven games -- has come with core pieces Deron Williams and Brook Lopez coming off the bench.

It's been viewed as a bold move. After all, Hollins has chosen not to start two former All-Stars who combine to make more than $35 million this season. …

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