5. Russell the spectator again
The first time the Brooklyn Nets played the Detroit Pistons, D’Angelo Russell was noticeably absent down the stretch as the Nets made their comeback that eventually fell just short.
Instead, he sat most of the fourth quarter as Spencer Dinwiddie played the point.
Russell struggled mightily on Wednesday against the Pistons, scoring six points on 3-of-15 shooting, but did contribute six assists and three steals.
He was pulled from the game with 5:42 left in regulation and never re-entered as Dinwiddie closed the game out.
But when the YES Network broadcast showed the Nets bench as Brooklyn made its comeback and eventually won the game, there was a common theme. The first guy up to applaud a big play and urge his teammates on? D’Angelo Russell.
He didn’t have it Wednesday night. But as his backup made play after play down the stretch, eventually hitting a game-tying 3 late in regulation and a game-winning 3 late in overtime, Russell didn’t sulk. He stayed engaged and involved.
For a guy playing for his next contract, it was both noteworthy and commendable that he put the team first in a situation where it would have been easy to find a seat at the end of the bench and check out mentally.
Russell can drive you crazy with his uneven play, but his maturity has come a long way and that’s worth noticing, too.