Brooklyn Nets: Player grades from last-second win at Denver

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

A-. 26 MIN, 23 PTS, 7-for-14 (3-for-5), 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 PF, 2 STL, 2 TO, +3. PG. Brooklyn Nets. D'ANGELO RUSSELL

D’Angelo Russell got the Nets going with a big first quarter, scoring nine points as the Nets opened a 34-24 lead by the break and added seven more with an assortment of runners and floaters in the fourth quarter as Brooklyn fended off the Nuggets late.

Russell also continued his recent trend of hard-nosed defense, making life tough for Denver’s leading scorer, Jamal Murray, for much of the night.

His decision-making with the basketball has been sharper of late, as well, and continued into Friday’s game against the Nuggets, as did his increased focus on cleaning up on the defensive boards.

All in all, a very solid night from a kid who seems to be putting it all together of late.

B-. 24 MIN, 4 PTS, 1-for-5 (1-for-4), 4 REB (1 ORB), 1 AT, 3 PF, 2 TO, 1 BLK, +9. PF. Brooklyn Nets. JARED DUDLEY

Jared Dudley is an acquired taste for some and if I had graded this game after just the initial look, the mark would have been lower.

But on a second glance, you really do see all of the little things that make you understand why coach Kenny Atkinson keeps leaning on him.

Solid screens, subtle shifts defensively to take away a passing lane or a driving angle, making the extra pass or just getting in a teammate’s ear to pass along some of the wisdom gained by 12 years of the NBA grind — these are all part of the package Dudley brings.

His biggest defensive play wasn’t a flying block, a rapid steal and dunk or a lockdown in a one-on-one. Instead, after Jarrett Allen had been isolated with Denver center Nikola Jokic most of the night, Dudley came over for a double-team with the game tied 110-110 in the closing seconds.

Jokic was caught off-guard by the tactic, which he had not been seeing, and while pivoting away from the double committed a traveling violation that gave the Nets the ball back with an opportunity to take the final shot.

Dudley doesn’t jump off the screen at you, by any means. But when you get a chance to start studying the subtleties, you can appreciate the veteran much more.