D’Angelo Russell Saves the Nets in Charlotte

B+

Final: 02/23/2019

W 117 115

Russell 3

At the beginning of the season, the Brooklyn Nets probably didn’t have a February matchup with the Charlotte Hornets circled as a must-win, but that is exactly what it became. With the Nets on a recent slide — 3-7 in their last 10 games — and the Hornets sitting one game back in the playoff picture, the stakes were high in Charlotte.

It was immediately clear that Brooklyn wanted to repent for their sins against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. There was an increased focus this game on securing rebounds on both ends of the floor which paid off as the Nets outrebounded the Hornets 26-20 early in the contest. The Nets also had a much better night shooting from deep as they hit 10 threes in the first half alone, more than they hit all night against the Blazers.

Their improved play gave the Nets an 18-point lead early in the second quarter, a rare blowout for a squad that usually takes the full four quarters to beat an opponent. Of course, with this team, it is never that simple. The Hornets quickly cut the lead to single-digits before Brooklyn stabilized, then slipped and let the Hornets close in again. Then, thankfully, Jarrett Allen added Kemba Walker to his list to end the half.

It was quintessential Brooklyn basketball and who would have it any other way?

Coming out of the break, the Nets looked hot as they quickly extended the lead all the way to 19 — then All-Star in Walker woke up. He was quiet in the first half, shooting 2-for-9 and generally having a hard time getting into a rhythm. Those early woes were forgotten in the second half as he hit pull-up three after pull-up three to will the Hornets back into the game. Four minutes into the fourth, they tied the game at 94-94. One minute later, they took the lead for the first time since the first quarter as the Charlotte crowd roared.

Yeah, that sounds like Nets basketball.

Here’s the thing though — Brooklyn has their own All-Star and D’Angelo Russell was not ready to lose.

He played the part of the hero as he took over, scoring the Nets’ last 12 points in the last 2:30 of game time. He was a man on a mission as he hit clutch shots all over the floor to push his team to the finish line, where Caris LeVert sealed the game by blocking Walker’s shot with his elbow. Yeah, that really happened.

Now THAT is Brooklyn Nets basketball.

D'Angelo Russell

A+

The stats: 40 PTS, 14-31 FG, 6-15 3PT, 1 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TO

Happy Birthday to Brooklyn’s All-Star, D’Angelo Russell!

Honestly, nothing I write here can describe to you how incredible Russell’s performance was tonight. You should have watched it live, and if you missed it, watch the highlights when they are posted. Long story short:

The Brooklyn Nets are in good hands as long as D’Angelo Russell is at the helm.

Joe Harris

A

The stats: 19 PTS, 5-7 FG, 3-4 3PT, 2 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TO

Charlotte fans are becoming very familiar with Joe Harris.

As if strolling into their city and stealing the three-point crown from hometown hero Stephen Curry wasn’t enough, now Joey Buckets is also using his powers to push the Hornets down in the playoff standings. If he puts up another performance like this when they face off next Friday, I say that we start a GoFundMe to erect a statue of him outside their arena.

Rodions Kurucs

B

The stats: 4 PTS, 2-2 FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO

Rodions Kurucs made good use of his recently reacquired minutes.

On Thursday night, Kurucs took his first “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” since early December. Brooklyn’s coaching staff have admitted that they are searching for an answer for who will play at the four. Against the Blazers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Treveon Graham, and Jared Dudley were all given chances. In Charlotte, he got the nod over Dudley and Hollis-Jefferson. Expect there to be more variance as the playoff push continues.

Jarrett Allen

B+

The stats: 11 PTS, 4-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 11 REB, 2 AST, 3 BLK, 1 TO

Jarrett Allen is a walking highlight machine, but the moments between can sometimes be ugly.

The Fro was once again a menace in the paint, but the Nets’ defensive scheme forces him to drop back and give shooters like Tony Parker and Kemba Walker space, which is dangerous even in the best of circumstances. While he has gotten better at securing the boards, he still lapses on crucial possessions that give opposing teams extra chances. His decision-making is still imperfect, such as taking late-game threes instead of passing to a more capable shooter.

All that being said, tonight he still posted his 20th double-double of the season at 20 years old. Patience is a virtue.

News from Around NYC