PHOENIX – Watching the Nets struggle without injuring Kevin Durant was insane, even more so because TJ Warren microwave scorer It is restricted to minutes.
And no one was angrier than Warren himself. Even with Durant and Kyrie Irving out on Tuesday, Warren was limited to just 24:07 Loss to Tottenham Hotspur. He still put up a team-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting but clearly made the impression he could have done more.
“Yeah, it’s very frustrating, believe me,” Warren told the newspaper. “She’s trying to find a balance [between] Being out of the house for two years but also knowing I feel like I can carry the load a bit during those longer periods.
“But I have to put my trust and the staff’s hands in training….they’ve done a great job with me, got me back to this point, they just had to see the bigger picture, the end of the season, the playoffs, playing at my best and hopefully off the beaten track” .
Those two aforementioned years — plus the glut of games on the horizon — are the reason the Nets are treating Warren with kid gloves. But with an 0-3 record since Durant injuring his right MCL, and with the four-time scoring champ not determined until early next week, should those gloves be removed?
Not only is the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Warren a suitable position for the power forward, but his scoring three-pointer is badly needed in Durant’s absence. Warren averaged 19.6, 18.0 and 19.8 points from 2017-20 before missing the previous two pregnancies due to stress fractures and multiple surgeries.
Hence, his playing time is being watched closely by the Nets, who slotted three games into their Thursday game against the Suns.
“I’m frustrated with the limitations of the minute, but just realizing it’s a bigger goal at the end of the season, the playoffs, is more important. But every game I feel is important and I definitely want to contribute as much as I can,” Warren told The Post. “But I trust the coaching staff. [We] Kind of bumps you go with it a lot. Try to keep my head up and stay positive.”
Warren has averaged 12.5 points over the past 12 games on 50.8 percent shooting and 39.4 percent from behind the arc in 23.4 minutes. He’s been better in the past seven, bringing those numbers to 13.0 points on 52.1 percent shooting. But coach Jack Vaughn and his performance squad – perhaps not in that order – have limited the veteran striker to just 21.9 minutes per game in the past seven.
“It’s really going to be a challenge for us, because you looked at it last week: we played two games in seven days, we had to take care of business and we had a lot of hard work and effort.” [Tuesday]. Vaughn said. “Now we come [to Phoenix] And you have three out of four [days]so you have to think about that, what does that look like in a back-to-back game with Phoenix and Utah.
“So I’m really trying to get our guys to focus on them today. … If Phoenix introduces himself and TJ can play more minutes then we’ll try to win that game with TJ but I’ll be smart about it in the long run. I don’t want to put the guys in a position where we don’t have them. Again, we’re going to try and use everyone in Phoenix and try to get the win.”
Nobody knows what Warren will leave in the tank during his extended run. But he showed that he can handle the important minutes of the moment without reducing returns.
In the past 12 games, he’s averaged 15.3 points each time he passes 23 minutes. And in the past seven, he’s averaged 18.0 any time he’s gotten that far.
“We just want players to use their minutes to play as hard as they can,” said Vaughn. “I told the players, ‘Don’t play like you’ve been playing for 30 minutes, play like you’ve been playing for 15 minutes.'” “Make that effort, give that discipline, and we’ll build from there.”