1. The incredible shrinking minutes of D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell‘s contract year did not get off to the start he was hoping for.
The Brooklyn Nets point guard and free-agent-to-be got the start Wednesday night in Detroit and struggled his way to eight points with five assists on 3-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes by the time he exited the game late in the third quarter.
He didn’t return, sitting on the sidelines the entire fourth quarter as Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie manned the guard spots.
It was a question at the front of the minds of many Nets fans on social media as the game wound down — where’s DLo?
Coach Kenny Atkinson told YES Network after the game that Russell not playing in the fourth quarter was purely a coaching decision.
Dinwiddie definitely had the hot hand in the second half, scoring 16 of his 23 points after intermission, and LeVert’s driving and drawing contact helped keep Brooklyn in the game after the Nets fell behind by double-digits in the third. LeVert had 17 of his 27 in the second half.
Dinwiddie started slowly, with three turnovers in the first half, but was solid down the stretch against the club that drafted him in the second round in 2014.
The second half numbers made it hard to argue with Atkinson’s decision. Russell was a minus-10 in nine second-half minutes, while Dinwiddie played to a plus-11 in 17 minutes after the break.
It may be that the scenario in which one of the tandem is traded and the other nominally looked at as the club’s point guard of the future plays out sooner rather than later.