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Nets starters rested well for Friday’s game in Minnesota

It was a night off for the headlines.

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn rested starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and sat out Nic Claxton (sprained right thumb/left Achilles tendinopathy), Cam Johnson (sore right knee) and Royce O’ Neale (left knee soreness), all due to injury at 118- Brooklyn. 113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

Ben Simmons (left knee/back soreness) missed his eighth straight game since the All-Star break, and Vaughn handled the charge for forward Mikal Bridges, who missed the court after playing the entire opening quarter.

It was a tactical call by Vaughn, even though he said he simply set up a hot shot bank that sent the Nets back into the game from 25 down.

The Nets were already heavy losers against the Bucks, who possess the best record in the NBA, even without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the former league MVP who sat out Thursday night due to “sore right hand.”

If Vaughn played his starters and rode them throughout the game, there was a good chance the Nets would lose, and have dead legs going into Friday’s matchup against Anthony Edwards’ Timberwolves.

Instead, Vaughn pulled the plug on the starters early. Bridges played the entire first quarter and then sat out the rest of the game. Nerlens Noel, who started in place of Claxton in just his second game since he signed a 10-day contract in Brooklyn, played 18 minutes.

Dorian Finney-Smith and Seth Curry each played 11 minutes, and Joe Harris played 10 minutes.

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“It was more the way the game played out a little bit with the lead they had after the first quarter,” Vaughn said after the game. “It was going to take a lot for that group to come back, so I went with the idea of ​​some fresh legs and see if we can turn it around, messing up the game a bit. So more in line with that.”

Instead, Vaughn opted to go with the bank. The Nets set a new record for most bench points in a game in franchise history with 98 points coming from non-starters.

Patty Mills scored 23, Cam Thomas added 21 and rookie Dru Smith scored 17 points.

Vaughn said he decided not to go back to his starters when the Nets turned a 25-point hole into a one-possession game in the fourth quarter because he wanted to assemble the team that helped erase the Bucks’ lead in the first place.

“I think that group had great pace and momentum for what they were trying to accomplish on the court,” Vaughn said. “So more than anything, the idea was to be with that group and stay with that group.”

Whether or not Vaughn intended to rest the entire Nets core rotation, the light work day leaves Brooklyn’s best players with fresh legs heading into Minnesota.

The Nets remain within striking distance of the Knicks for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

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