Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has been knocked for his lack of consistency throughout his four seasons in the NBA. The arc was at a high point Sunday.
That those two games encompass both Russell’s season-low and season-high scoring performances pretty much sums up his NBA career to this point.
A lack of consistency has been one of the primary knocks against Russell, now in his fourth season after being the No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft.
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Acquired by the Nets on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft, Russell has been good — great at times — for Brooklyn this season, but has still displayed that tendency to go up and down in radical spikes.
On Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Russell scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting in the Nets’ 112-102 loss.
On Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers, Russell poured in 38 points, hitting 16-of-28 from the floor, in Brooklyn’s 127-125 defeat.
Russell had the hot hand early and kept it for much of the game. He scored 11 points as the Nets took a 32-25 lead at the first quarter break and had five points in just six minutes in the second quarter, while Brooklyn opened a 20-point lead before settling for a 68-54 edge.
Then he really went to work in the third quarter. Russell broke out the entire bag of tricks, hitting a 3-pointer, several mid-range jumpers and some acrobatic drives and floaters while scoring 13 points as the Nets went to the fourth period with a 15-point lead.
Even as Philadelphia began to blitz Russell off the pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter, he still dropped in nine points on 4-of-8 shooting.
But his last bucket came with 7:26 remaining, a deep 3-pointer above the break that put the Nets back up by 10 points 113-103 after the 76ers had gotten to within seven points.
The point guard missed his final three shots, two from 3-point range and a driving floater, as Philadelphia finally succeeded in getting the ball out of his hands more often.
When the 76ers started sending two defenders at Russell, he was looking for the open teammate. The problem was that the open teammates were too often following up with bad decisions.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw a bad pass after getting an outlet from Russell. Joe Harris missed a 3-pointer. Jarrett Allen missed a floater in the lane. Harris missed another 3. Harris missed a reverse at the rim.
There were two big makes in that sequence. Spencer Dinwiddie knocked down an open 3, as did Harris with 48.8 seconds left to put the Nets back in front after Philadelphia took its first lead since it was 2-0 in the opening moments of the game.
With 0.4 second remaining, the Nets had one final chance to tie or win the game and Russell re-entered the game after he had been taken out for defense at the other end.
The big question going forward for Russell is not as ridiculous as it should be: When the Nets host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, will we see four points or 40 from the point guard?