NEW YORK — The Nets signed Earl Clark to a 10-day contract on Friday, and before that night’s contest against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, head coach Lionel Hollins set the bar fairly low in terms of his expectations.
“I expect him to play,” Hollins said. “I expect him to come in and help us. We’re looking around for somebody that can give us some offense by spreading the court making shots, and he’s tall — hopefully he’ll get a rebound or a blocked shot every now and then.”
Clark did much more than that.
In just over 11 second-half minutes, Clark provided an energetic spark, and contributed seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, to go along with a rebound, a steal and an assist.
“I was afraid to leave him in, and I was afraid to take him out,” Hollins said afterward. “The reality was, after he made the shot, I decide to just let him go. I didn’t feel comfortable at first watching him, and then after he made the shot, he looked comfortable, and then he did something on the defensive end, and then I said, ‘come on back out,’ and let him have some time. I didn’t want the game to get away from us — I think we were down 65-63 at the time — but as it worked out, he got in the flow.”
Clark played like a man desperate to show he belongs, after having been out of the league for more than a year; his last NBA game was played on March 15 of last season. He’s spent this season in both the D-League and China, and is only in Brooklyn because the Nets are in the middle of a playoff push, and need the body after Thaddeus Young went down with an injury.
But if Clark can put together similar performances in the future, he may get the chance to stick around.
“I just think it’s another opportunity that’s come around for me,” Clark said, via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. “I tried to answer the door. I think I played cool enough, just coming from home and working out and this being my first day with the team. It’s a good win.”