Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tyshawn Taylor hasn’t been in high demand recently, but that changed on Monday evening after the rookie point guard scored a career-high 12 points in 34 minutes at the Indiana Pacers, including key minutes and shots in overtime.
After shootaround on Wednesday morning before the Nets hosted the Denver Nuggets, the former St. Anthony of Jersey City and Kansas University star conducted a radio interview in Kansas via cell phone. Taylor hung up, stood up, the assembled media converged and Taylor, with that trademark wide smile, acted a little surprised and said the first thing that came to his mind.
“Ya’ll waiting on me?”
The renewed interest in one of the more memorable New Jersey-bred players in recent memory came in large part thanks to Deron Williams being out until after the All-Star break thanks to a case of synovitis. With the three-time All-Star out, C. J. Watson got the start, Taylor came off the bench and he made the most of the opportunity.
In overtime, Taylor hit a jumper and then a wild driving layup on consecutive possessions for an 80-77 lead in a game the Nets eventually won, 89-84, against a Pacers team that came in with a 20-4 record at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“My mom is my biggest fan, I had about 10 text messages from her, every play I did that night, she’s texting me about it as if I’m reading it,” Taylor joked. “She was excited, my little sisters were excited, it feels good to just know that so many people are rooting for me and cheering for me. That’s a good feeling, man. It makes me feel like I’m playing for a lot more than just myself.”
The 34 minutes, 12 points and 5-for-9 effort from the field are by far season-bests for a player that was used to playing much larger roles during his high school and college days.
“I just stayed in the gym, tried to stay focused and mentally-prepared to play,” Taylor said. “You can come to a game a tell yourself, ‘I’m not gonna play, I’m not gonna play,’ and then coach calls your name and you’re not ready and don’t take advantage of the opportunity. I think just trying to stay mentally-prepared and telling myself that I’m just gonna make the best of any opportunity I get.”
With Williams out, C.J. Watson will start again at point guard on Wednesday with Taylor coming off the bench. It doesn’t matter much who starts if Taylor is going to be the finisher in crunch time as was the case on Monday. In the end, Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo would rather Taylor’s extended minutes turn into one of those wonderful problems where he has too many good options to choose from.
“I think he played extremely well and hopefully, he’ll back that up tonight,” Carlesimo said. “Hopefully, he’ll cause us a problem going forward of finding some minutes for him. He’s very confident, which is a good thing, but I think it was good to go out there and do it, particularly against a quality opponent on the road and in a close game where you finish the game. You couldn’t ask for much more in terms of going out and doing it in a big situation.”
In 26 games this season, Taylor, a Hoboken native, is averaging 1.9 points in 5.3 minutes per game. He has played four games over two separate stints with the Nets’ D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor, averaging 26.5 points, 7.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA