Tag:

D'Angelo Russell

May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The hype around the Nets being a serious consideration for free agents this summer continues to grow.

According to multiple reports, including from the New York Post and Philly.com, Brooklyn will be one of the suitors for Philadelphia's Tobias Harris. Sources told SNY Insider Ian Begley that throughout the regular season, some people close to Harris viewed the Nets as a strong destination for Harris.

Harris, the 26-year-old Long Island native, averaged 20 points and 7.9 rebounds a game in 2018-19. The 76ers acquired Harris from the Clippers in February a year after the Clippers got Harris from Detroit.

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May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)
May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

The Nets are going to be "aggressive" this summer, as Sean Marks stated. If they can't land one of the top prizes like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, it appears they'll have a good shot at someone in the next tier.

According to the New York Post, Brooklyn has a "very real chance" to sign Jimmy Butler away from the 76ers.

The report says it's believed Butler likes the culture that is being built in Brooklyn.

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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The Knicks aren't the only team in town with designs on a big offseason. As Brooklyn GM Sean Marks said last month, the Nets will be "aggressive" this summer to improve the roster after their rebuild took a big step forward in 2018-19 by making the playoffs. And sources told SNY contributor Anthony Puccio that marquee free agents like Kevin Durant will at least consider the Nets as a possible new home.

But as noted by The Athletic's Michael Scotto, a wrench could be thrown into the Nets' plans if a team in need of a point guard signs restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell to an offer sheet early in free agency.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Indiana Pacers
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Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Philadelphia 76ers in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Philadelphia 76ers in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

With the Nets season over, players normally return to their families or hometowns to take a break from the grind. But PG D'Angelo Russell found himself in a predicament trying to do so. 

Russell was detained at LaGuardia Airport when a luggage search on his checked bag showed he was in possession of a "small amount of marijuana," per USA TODAY's A.J. Perez.

The 23-year-old was questioned by police after they had found an Arizona Iced Tea can that had a secret compartment holding the marijuana. He was released on Wednesday night following the incident, but received a summons to appear in court for marijuana possession. Russell still flew to his hometown Louisville, Kentucky that night. 

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

Entering the summer of 2019, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has every reason to say "checkmate" to those who doubted his vision for the organization when he took over in 2016. He refused to skip steps or make a splash move to accelerate the rebuild. He was going for "singles" and "doubles" as opposed to swinging for the fences when he didn't have enough juice to hit one.

But now, following a playoff tussle in Year Three of the rebuild, Marks has put himself in a position where free agents might approach the Kiwi GM with their own way of saying, "Check, mate?"

Several league sources have told SNY that top-tier free agents, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Tobias Harris, will at least consider Brooklyn this upcoming July when it's time to find their next home - if they decide to leave.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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All the talk about this summer's NBA free agency has been centered around the Knicks and their ability to add two max free agents. But how might the Nets impact their plans?

Brooklyn GM Sean Marks said in a letter Thursday, shared by NetsDaily, that the Nets will be "active and aggressive" this offseason in an effort to improve the roster after a surprising season in which they finished 42-40 to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 6 seed in the playoffs, seemingly accelerating their rebuild.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, D'Angelo Russell
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Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)
Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)

Coming off of a 28-win campaign last season, the Brooklyn Nets had low expectations. The steady development of young players in Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen seemed more important than wins.

The season seemed to head that way on Dec. 5. After a game-winning three pointer by Oklahoma City's Paul George knocked off Brooklyn, the Nets fell to 8-18. Mired in an eight-game losing streak, Brooklyn found themselves with the fourth worst record in the East - behind the New York Knicks.

But Brooklyn instantly turned their season around, winning nine of their next 10 games. From that point, the Nets were one of the better teams in the East, ending up with a 34-22 record in their final 56 games. Even with LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie out for lengthy periods with injury, the Nets finished sixth in the East with a 42-40 record.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

The Nets couldn't mount a comeback in this First Round series, as the 76ers blew them out off in Philadelphia, 122-100, in Game 5 on Tuesday night. >> Box score

Seven things to know about Tuesday's game...

1) Joel Embiid was once again the Sixers' leading scorer and he only saw 20 minutes of work in the game. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, and collected two assists and one steal as well. He was 9-for-18 shooting as he continued to stay efficient.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Scott Thompson
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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Joel Embiid's left knee will be a question for the Philadelphia 76ers for the duration of their playoff run, but when he is on the floor, things go extremely well.

Embiid's presence is among the reasons why the 76ers are on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. And they have a shot to do just that Tuesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Philadelphia is attempting to reach the semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2001 during the peak years of coach Larry Brown and Allen Iverson, a stretch that culminated in getting to the NBA Finals in 2001.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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76ers fight past Nets in Game 4 00:01:59
In a heated affair, the 76ers got 31 points from Joel Embiid and took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Nets with a 112-108 victory

Tensions were high in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, but the heat of the moment didn't work in the home team's favor. The Nets were up for most of the second half, but they couldn't close out the 76ers in a 112-108 loss in Game 4 of this First Round matchup. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game...

1) There was a point in the second half when the Nets were leading for 23 straight minutes. However, the Sixers eventually took the lead with a Joel Embiid layup with 2:54 remaining. From there, the Nets and 76ers traded buckets with D'Angelo Russell draining a three with 1:26 remaining to regain the lead. But Mike Scott hit the eventual game-winner, a dagger three in the corner. On the ensuing possession, Russell found Jarrett Allen on the pick-and-roll, and he would've had a clear lane to the rim if he caught the pass cleanly. Instead, the ball was fumbled and Allen was swarmed by Sixers, who took it away. 

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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76ers overpower Nets 00:02:07
Playing without Joel Embiid, the 76ers got a combined 86 points from Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick to take a 2-1 series lead

Even though the 76ers didn't have Joel Embiid for Game 3 because of a left knee injury, the Nets couldn't keep pace with the 76ers in a 131-115 Game 3 loss in Brooklyn Thursday night. The Nets now trail the first-round series, 2-1. >> Box score

Five things to know about Thursday's game

1) After trailing by six at halftime, the 76ers opened up an 18-point lead in the third quarter before the Nets closed the third on a 14-3 run. They got to within six in the fourth but the Sixers took control down the stretch.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives past Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 15, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives past Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the second quarter in game two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets will play their first home playoff game in four years. Not much went right for Brooklyn in Game 2 except Spencer Dinwiddie's 19-point effort.

But the Nets took back homecourt advantage with the split. In the playoffs, that's a huge achievement.

"We go back to Brooklyn," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "The old story, if you would have told us before we're splitting here in Philly, I think we'd be happy. But I'm not pleased with the way we presented ourselves. We were below average, quite honestly."

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Nets ready for Game 3 at home 00:01:08
New York Nets center Jarrett Allen was elbowed by Joel Embiid in Game 2, Nets players express their opinions on the matter.

In Game 2 of this First Round matchup between the Nets and 76ers, Joel Embiid hit Jarrett Allen with a nasty elbow that was deemed a flagrant one. But when asked about it post game, Embiid and Ben Simmons chuckled as the big man tried to answer the question. 

As one would expect, the Nets didn't think highly of that reaction. 

Veteran forward Jared Dudley was the most outspoken of the Nets, and he didn't hold back during media availability at practice on Wednesday.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Scott Thompson
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets' 145-123 Game 2 loss against the 76ers on Monday night may not have been pretty, but they head back home to Brooklyn with a split series and a chance to capitalize on home-court advantage. 

It is the first playoff basketball game in Brooklyn in four years, except this time there is a different look surrounding the team with young stars such as D'Angelo Russell at the helm. 

"We're very excited," he said, per Greg Logan of Newsday. "I know the Barclays Center is going to be jumping. We're excited about getting back home and taking care of home court. The buzz around the city is what we need. We need that atmosphere. We need that intensity to be up like that."

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Sixers rout Nets, tie series 00:01:31
The 76ers responded to their Game 1 loss with by blowing out the Nets, 145-123, to even their series at 1-1

The Nets allowed 51 points in the third quarter en route to a 145-123 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday at Wells Fargo Center. >> Box score

Five things to know about Monday's game

1) Despite trailing 65-64 at halftime, the 76ers started the third on a 21-2 run capped by a Ben Simmons basket that put Philadelphia up 86-66. Overall, the 76ers outscored Brooklyn 51-23, scoring the most points in a quarter in NBA playoff history.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, the Brooklyn Nets defended well, produced plenty of offense and flustered the Philadelphia 76ers at times in Game 1.

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the sixth-seeded Nets look to follow up a strong performance while the third-seeded Sixers hope to bounce back and level the Eastern Conference first-round series.

A Nets win would mark the first time they went up 2-0 in a series since sweeping the New York Knicks in the opening round of the 2004 postseason.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

Kenny Atkinson walked out of a quiet locker room and into a small press conference area with a handful of reporters. Brooklyn's head coach was in near tears having witnessed a gruesome right foot injury to his 24-year-old rising star and development poster boy, Caris LeVert. He did the best he could to answer questions, but they weren't really answers.

No timetables. No clue what was going to happen next for a kid who already endured three surgeries.

But then he finished with a powerful statement, a true testament showing how much he believes in his young prodigy.

"I just know Caris," he said, "like if anybody's coming back from this [it's him]. Knowing the human, the character, the person, the player … he'll come back from this."

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Nets take Game 1 from Sixers 00:02:06
Head coach Kenny Atkinson saw his Nets bench outscore the 76ers bench 59-26, as Brooklyn took the opener of their playoff series, 111-102.

The Nets took control late in the first quarter and held the lead the rest of the way, causing the boo-birds to rain down in Philly as Brooklyn upset the 76ers on Saturday, 111-102, to take Game 1. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game

1) Brooklyn used an incredible 20-1 run to take a 39-23 lead in the second quarter. After trailing by three, the Nets closed the first quarter on a 12-0 run over the final 2:30. The Sixers would get to within two in the third quarter, but that's as close as they'd get.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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The Brooklyn Nets were a pleasant surprise this season. Expected to finish out of the playoffs, Brooklyn managed a 14-game win improvement from the previous season and finished 42-40, earning the sixth seed in the East.

In their first playoff appearance in four years, the Nets will head down the New Jersey Turnpike to face the 51-31 Philadelphia 76ers. In the regular season, the Nets faced the Sixers in four games and split the season series 2-2. Just one of these games - a 123-110 Sixers win on March 28 - has featured Philadelphia's fully updated roster following the Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in-season trades.

Can the upstart Nets make some noise in the playoffs? Here are some key factors to the Nets' first round playoff matchup.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to the media before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)
Apr 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to the media before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports (Richard Mackson)

Among the many things Magic Johnson had to say Tuesday night as he announced his stunning resignation as Lakers president, he addressed the emergence of D'Angelo Russell as an All-Star for the Nets. 

Russell, whom the Lakers selected No. 2 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, was traded by Johnson to the Nets in June of 2017.

"We had to give up a really talented young player in D'Angelo Russell. And congratulations to him," Johnson said during his impromptu press conference. "We saw D'Angelo mature. He wasn't mature like he is now. He always had the talent to score, but he was immature. And now he's grown up, and that's why he's an All-Star."

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Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) talks with guard Treveon Graham (21) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) talks with guard Treveon Graham (21) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Nets have already clinched their spot in their year's NBA playoffs, which would suggest head coach Kenny Atkinson rest his key players against the Heat on Wednesday to make sure they're 100 percent healthy for the big games this weekend right? 

Wrong.

"S--t we're trying to win," D'Angelo Russell told The Daily News' Stefan Bondy. "It makes sense if guys are banged up to rest. But I'm playing."

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Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

As the Brooklyn Nets made their playoff drive, they knew the degree of difficulty they would face with their schedule in the last few weeks, especially with the final weekend.

After getting a dramatic win over the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, the Nets conclude a critical back-to-back set Sunday when they visit the Indiana Pacers, who will likely be the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

"It says a lot about the team and the organization," Nets forward DeMarre Carroll said. "We just keep fighting and fighting. We don't want to stop here. We want to try to go to Indiana and pick up another one."

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball around Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports  (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball around Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

MILWAUKEE (AP) D'Angelo Russell had 25 points and 10 assists, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks 133-128 on Saturday to improve their positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Brooklyn (40-40) made 19 3-pointers and placed eight players in double figures. Caris LeVert had 24 points, and Jared Dudley finished with 16.

The Nets, who had dropped four of five, moved into sixth place in the East. Orlando also is 40-40, and Detroit is a half-game back with a 39-40 record.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Milwaukee Bucks
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Apr 7, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson yells to his team against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 7, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson yells to his team against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

Kenny Atkinson sat on a high stage in front of a large group of reporters and other basketball types. Behind him was a bright silhouette of the New York City skyline -- the highlight of Brooklyn's immaculate brand new practice facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He spoke confidently, yet humbly, having accepted his first job as a head coach after more than 14 years of playing professional basketball and more than 10 years of coaching.

Back in his home state, Atkinson told reporters, "Brooklyn is basketball."

Less than three years later, Brooklyn basketball is defined by the morals and values Atkinson has brought to the Nets. He preaches a team-first, blue-collar mentality that's helped blossom a culture. Egos are checked at the door.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 3, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) grabs a rebound against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 3, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) grabs a rebound against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

NEW YORK (AP) Pascal Siakam had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and nine boards and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-105 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Serge Ibaka finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors (56-23), who need to win their final three games to match last season's franchise record for victories. Their victory prevented the Milwaukee Bucks from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

D'Angelo Russell had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who fell to 39-40 and missed another chance to improve their playoff situation. They came into play seventh in the East but could have moved ahead of Detroit after the Pistons fell in Indiana.

Brooklyn has lost four of five. >> Read more

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Toronto Raptors
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Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell is fouled by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe during the first half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell is fouled by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe during the first half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the lineup, Eric Bledsoe added 29 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 131-121 on Monday night.

Reserve guard George Hill chipped in 22 points while Brook Lopez and Sterling Brown each scored 14 for the Bucks, who played without All-Star forward Khris Middleton because of soreness in his left groin.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Milwaukee Bucks
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Feb 4, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) controls the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 4, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) controls the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

With a win against the Nets on Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a little bit of help from the Orlando Magic, the Milwaukee Bucks can clinch home court throughout the playoffs.

Milwaukee is three games up on the Toronto Raptors with five games remaining. The Raptors and Magic tangle at the same time the Bucks and Nets will be squaring off.

For all intents and purposes, every game left for the Nets is like a playoff game.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Milwaukee Bucks
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Mar 30, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Ed Davis (17) drives past Boston Celtics forward Aron Baynes (46) in the second quarter against at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Mar 30, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Ed Davis (17) drives past Boston Celtics forward Aron Baynes (46) in the second quarter against at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

NEW YORK (AP) D'Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 29 points in another blistering third quarter against Boston, leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 110-96 victory over the short-handed Celtics on Saturday night.

Back from a seven-game trip that lasted more than two weeks, the Nets had a happy homecoming thanks largely to Russell, who added 10 assists and finished with 25 points after halftime.

It was the third straight time he hurt the Celtics in the third quarter, and the Nets really needed this one after going 2-5 on the road and dropping into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Tags: Boston Celtics, D'Angelo Russell
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Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

After seven games and 17 days on the road, the Brooklyn Nets are glad to return home.

Even if the schedule presents some tough challenges with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

One of those challenges occurs Saturday night when the Nets host the Boston Celtics, who are coming off a dramatic and important win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.

Tags: Boston Celtics, D'Angelo Russell
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Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

The Brooklyn Nets are all but back in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2014-15. All that's really left to determine is who their opponent is going to be.

The Nets currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, up half a game against the eighth-seeded Miami Heat and behind half a game to the Detroit Pistons with six games to play. 

At the moment, they would face off against the Toronto Raptors in the first round, but with constantly shifting standings, the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are potential adversaries too. Here's a look at which of the three teams makes for Brooklyn's best chance at an upset.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Milwaukee Bucks, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Toronto Raptors
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Mar 25, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after getting fouled and scoring a basket during a double overtime game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Brooklyn Nets in double overtime 148-144. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)
Mar 25, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after getting fouled and scoring a basket during a double overtime game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Brooklyn Nets in double overtime 148-144. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)

The Nets fell 148-144 in double overtime on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

It was a difficult game to complete as both teams watched Portland's Jusuf Nurkic taken off the court on a stretcher with a nasty left leg injury.

Point guard D'Angelo Russell continued his stellar play with a team-high 39 points for his third 30-point game in the last four. Russell also contributed nine rebounds and eight assists.

"I'm a nervous guy. He's just cool," Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of Russell. "Doesn't get fazed. He's one of those guys, special guys, they really enjoy the moment. They don't get flustered. I never see him get frustrated. And keeps his cool, keeps his composure and keeps his IQ. Some guys, things go wrong and they go haywire. He kind of keeps locked in. That's a special thing he has."

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic makes a move to the basket against Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris and guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the first half at Moda Center. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic makes a move to the basket against Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris and guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the first half at Moda Center. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

Jusuf Nurkic had 32 points and 16 rebounds before suffering a gruesome left leg injury in the second overtime, and the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Brooklyn Nets 148-144 on Monday night.

Nurkic was hurt when his leg bent awkwardly as he battled for an offensive rebound. His leg was immobilized and he was removed on a stretcher while surrounded by members of both teams.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Portland Trail Blazers
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LOS ANGELES (AP) Joe Harris scored 26 points, D'Angelo Russelladded 21 points and 13 assists against his former team, and the Brooklyn Nets eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers from playoff contention with a 111-106 victory Friday night.

Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points in his hometown as the Nets (38-36) bolstered their playoff chances with their second straight win after an 0-3 start to this seven-game road trip.

Brooklyn is seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, a half-game behind sixth-place Detroit and 2 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Orlando.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
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Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)
Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)

D'Angelo Russell is back in Los Angeles as the Nets play the Lakers on Friday night and boy, the tables have turned. 

The Lakers, who traded Russell to the Nets after two seasons, are on the brink of playoff elimination. Meanwhile, Russell and the Nets are in town fighting to stay in the playoff picture, currently in seventh place one game ahead of the Miami Heat. 

The 23-year-old All-Star is a major part of the reason why the Nets are in that position and his success has shined a new kind of spotlight on him as he returns to Los Angeles.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

"I've seen a lot of growth, really in all areas. Maybe the most important area, is as a team leader ... that said, the point guard is always going to have the most complex job of ball distribution, mixing in an aggressive attack, to score and set up playmaking opportunities. There's real nuance to all that stuff. But he's smart. He wants it, and I've really loved how he's played. He gets a little better every day."

Those were the words of Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle at the beginning of the season about his then-starting point guard, Dennis Smith Jr.

A lot has happened since then: uneven play from Smith, some immaturity, and the emergence of a rookie named Luka Doncic. Fast forward to today and Smith is now a member of the Knicks, on a completely gutted roster (or a young rebuilding one, at least) looking to find stable footing and develop into the player many thought he could be when Dallas selected him No. 9 overall in the 2017 draft.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

"I've seen a lot of growth, really in all areas. Maybe the most important area, is as a team leader ... that said, the point guard is always going to have the most complex job of ball distribution, mixing in an aggressive attack, to score and set up playmaking opportunities. There's real nuance to all that stuff. But he's smart. He wants it, and I've really loved how he's played. He gets a little better every day."

Those were the words of Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle at the beginning of the season about his then-starting point guard, Dennis Smith Jr.

A lot has happened since then: uneven play from Smith, some immaturity, and the emergence of a rookie named Luka Doncic. Fast forward to today and Smith is now a member of the Knicks, on a completely gutted roster (or a young rebuilding one, at least) looking to find stable footing and develop into the player many thought he could be when Dallas selected him No. 9 overall in the 2017 draft.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)
Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)

It may have taken him a few years to fulfill his potential, but D'Angelo Russell wants everyone to know he was always going to get here.

"I'm built for this s---!" Russell declared Tuesday night, and nobody could deny it after he led the Nets on an epic 28-point comeback by scoring 27 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets stunned the Kings, 123-121.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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LA Clippers guard Lou Williams dribbles defended by Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the first quarter at Staples Center. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)
LA Clippers guard Lou Williams dribbles defended by Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie during the first quarter at Staples Center. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

Lou Williams hit the game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the key at the final buzzer to give the Los Angeles Clippers a 119-116 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.

Los Angeles led 116-106 with 1:02 remaining, only to see Brooklyn score 10 straight points and tie it with 5.3 seconds remaining on DeMarre Carroll's dunk. The Clippers called a timeout to set up the winning shot for Williams, who finished with 25 points.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Los Angeles Clippers
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Mar 16, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio (3) defends against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports (Russell Isabella)
Mar 16, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio (3) defends against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports (Russell Isabella)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Rudy Gobert added 23 points and 17 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-98 on Saturday night.

Derrick Favors had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz. Jae Crowder and Ricky Rubio added 12 points apiece as Utah won its third straight game, holding Brooklyn to 35 percent shooting and finishing with a 65-44 advantage on rebounds.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 22 points and D'Angelo Russell added 20 for Brooklyn. The Nets dropped their second in a row after winning four straight.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Utah Jazz
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Mar 13, 2019; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) steals the ball from Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports (Alonzo Adams)
Mar 13, 2019; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) steals the ball from Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports (Alonzo Adams)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 31 points in his 26th triple-double of the season, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Brooklyn Nets 108-96 on Wednesday night.

Westbrook added 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the 130th triple-double of his career.

Paul George scored 25 points and Jerami Grant added 15 for the Thunder, who shot 49 percent in the second half. Oklahoma City has won three of four as it battles to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. >> Read more

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Oklahoma City Thunder, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Mar 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Mar 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

"I'm gonna win that s--t. Watch. Put it on record. I'm gonna win it."

D'Angelo Russell beams with confidence as he firmly tells me that he's going to win the Most Improved Player Award. I mention a few names. He doesn't want to hear it. He's winning it.

"I'm telling you, I'm winning it!"

Russell just turned 23 years old and he's currently on top of the world. The former No. 2 overall pick is having the best year of his career, averaging 20.5 points and 6.7 assists on 37 percent shooting from three entering Monday's game -- all career-high's during a contract year. He just recently returned from All-Star Weekend and he's leading the Nets on an improbable run to the playoffs. 

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen
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Feb 4, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) controls the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 4, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) controls the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Just last weekend, clutch baskets by D'Angelo Russell, and a timely block by Caris LeVert on Kemba Walker, helped the Brooklyn Nets escape with a dramatic win over the Charlotte Hornets.

It also left the Hornets infuriated with the officiating on the final sequence.

Two of the three meetings between the teams have been filled with drama and the season series will conclude Friday night when the Hornets visit the Nets.

The Nets are expected to a get a boost since Spencer Dinwiddie is set to return Friday. Dinwiddie has been out since Jan. 23 due to torn ligaments in his right thumb and practiced with Brooklyn's G-League team Thursday after coach Kenny Atkinson said he was close to returning. >> Read more

Tags: Charlotte Hornets, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Feb 27, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) pressures Washington Wizards forward Jabari Parker (12) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Feb 27, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) pressures Washington Wizards forward Jabari Parker (12) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

NEW YORK (AP) Bradley Beal scored 31 points, Trevor Ariza had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 125-116 on Wednesday night.

Reserve Thomas Bryant had 18 points and Bobby Portis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who led by as many as 28 points. Washington had lost four straight and nine out of 12.

D'Angelo Russell scored 28 points for the Nets, who had their two-game winning streak snapped. >> Read More

 

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Washington Wizards
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San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge puts up a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge puts up a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)

D'Angelo Russell had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets forced the San Antonio Spurs into perhaps their worst offensive performance of the season in a 101-85 victory Monday night.

A night after their defense was absent in a loss to the Knicks, the Spurs went across town and couldn't get their offense going. San Antonio was held to its lowest point total of the season, and the NBA's leading 3-point shooting team was a season-worst 16.7 percent behind the arc.

San Antonio came in shooting a little better than 40 percent behind the arc.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, San Antonio Spurs
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Feb 21, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) plays the ball against Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 21, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) plays the ball against Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

NEW YORK (AP) Jusuf Nurkic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, new backup Enes Kanter added 18 points and nine boards in his Portland debut, and the Trail Blazers beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-99 on Thursday night.

The center tandem was so good that the Trail Blazers didn't even need a big night from All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who was just 5 for 21 from the field. He finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Kanter, who signed last week with the Blazers after losing his job with the Knicks, made his first seven shots and finished 8 for 9, missing only a 3-pointer.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Enes Kanter
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Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell hits a 3-point shot during the first half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell hits a 3-point shot during the first half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

A little over three years ago, Sean Marks was officially introduced as the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, and three months later Kenny Atkinson was named as the coach of the rebuilding project.

Two painful seasons followed, but in Year 3, the Nets are in the playoff picture in a crowded Eastern Conference race.

Brooklyn resumes its playoff push Thursday night when it hosts the Portland Trail Blazers, who are starting a season-high seven-game road trip.

At 30-29, the Nets headed into the All-Star break with a winning record for the first time since the 2012-13 season. When they last reached the playoffs in 2014-15, the Nets held a 21-31 record at the break and finished at 38-44. >> Read More

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Portland Trail Blazers
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Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

The Nets were in a nip-and-tuck affair with the lowly Cavaliers all night Wednesday, but after three overtimes Brooklyn was finally able to come away with a 148-139 victory in Cleveland. The 148 points the Nets scored are tied for the second-most they've ever scored in a game, and are the most they've ever scored in a road game. >> Box score

Things to know about Wednesday's game

1) When the Nets took a 135-131 lead with 3:08 remaining in the third overtime, that marked their largest lead of the game. D'Angelo Russell hit a 3-pointer to give them that lead before extending it to eight with two consecutive buckets. Russell, who will head to Charlotte for this weekend's All-Star Game, took over at the end of the game as he scored 14 of his 36 points in the third overtime, going 6-for-6 from the field in the final period after struggling earlier in the game.

Russell was 5-for-18 with 12 points in 29 regulation minutes. He then went 8-for-12 with 24 points in 12 overtime minutes to ensure Brooklyn (30-29) took a winning record into the break.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

For the last two months, the Brooklyn Nets have drawn notice in a positive light due to their turnaround and emergence into the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Even with a solid last two months, recent results show the Nets are slightly staggering toward the All-Star break.

They hope to head into the break with a winning record Wednesday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who entered Tuesday with the NBA's third-worst record (12-45).

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers, D'Angelo Russell
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Feb 11, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) shoots for a basket against Toronto Raptors in the second half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)
Feb 11, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) shoots for a basket against Toronto Raptors in the second half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

The Nets put up a fight against the Raptors but ultimately fell short Monday in a 127-125 loss in Toronto after the game was tied 92-92 through three quarters. The Nets (29-29) have lost five of their last six games. >> Box score

Things to know about Monday's game

1) Kawhi Leonard hit a game-winning bank shot for Toronto with 4.2 seconds left roughly 30 seconds after Danny Green hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 125-125. Leonard finished with 30 points and eight assists. 

Tags: Allen Crabbe, D'Angelo Russell, Toronto Raptors
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Jan 14, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) shoots the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports  (Wendell Cruz)
Jan 14, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) shoots the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

With 10:39 to go in the second quarter Friday, Caris LeVert entered the game for his first NBA action in nearly three months. Barclays Center rose to its feet, with a couple of his Nets teammates cheering along. What followed was a couple of stints that reminded Nets fans what they missed in LeVert, largely considered their best prospect earlier this season. 

But beyond this limited stretch in his first game back, LeVert's return means much more, a huge addition to a Brooklyn team that's fighting for its first postseason berth in a few years.

"I thought he looked good; he looked athletic," Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said following Brooklyn's 125-106 loss to the Bulls. "He was active pushing the ball, getting downhill like he does, making passes."

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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