After missing 32 games with a knee injury, D'Angelo Russell made his long-awaited return to the court for the Nets in their 101-95 comeback win against the Heat on Friday night.
Russell was predictably rusty. In 14 minutes off the bench, he missed all five shots from the field and scored just one point, with two assists and two turnovers. The stat line wasn't of the utmost importance-- Russell and the Nets know the shots will fall. Everyone was just happy to have him back on the court.
"That was the main test, so getting the opportunity to go out there and be with my teammates again was great," Russell said, via Brian Lewis of NY Post. "Limited minutes, but it was great, just being out there in general. All numbers aside, I don't know how you want to put it, but just being out there was really my main focus."
The guard couldn't deny being rusty but expected to feel that way.
"Yeah [I was rusty]. I mean I feel like everything is still there, but definitely not being able to play the last few games, you're going to feel like that."
Prior to his return, the 21-year-old Russell averaged 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds, all career bests, in 12 games with Brooklyn before undergoing surgery. His 46.3 percent shooting percentage was also a career high through his first three seasons.
"[Russell was] obviously rusty, which is normal," head coach Kenny Atkinson said. "His second [half] he was much better. You could see he got in rhythm. He's got a feel as a quarterback, as a point guard of getting guys shots."
Russell and the Nets are next in action Sunday at 4 p.m. against the Pistons in Detroit.