When Rodions Kurucs came off the Brooklyn Nets bench with 1:48 left in the first quarter, it was to a roar of approval from the Barclays Center crowd.
The rookie has rapidly become a fan favorite with his energetic play and that was on display again Friday night. Kurucs got a breakaway dunk after reading a pass and intercepting it and got a layup off a nice leak out on the fast break with Spencer Dinwiddie.
Defensively, he spent much of his time matched up with Toronto Raptors point guard Delon Wright and held his own. Wright scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting as he had difficulty dealing with Kurucs’ length and surprising quickness.
Mistakes? Yes. he made a few. But then again, too few to mention.
The minutes for Jared Dudley diminished just a bit more Friday night. After starting the first 20 games of the season for the Brooklyn Nets, the 12th-year veteran is averaging 16.7 minutes per game in seven games off the bench, with Friday’s 11 minutes marking a season-low.
He did break his streak of missed 3-pointers at seven straight when he banked one in off the glass in the first half. It was his first made 3 since Nov. 25 against the Philadelphia 76ers and Dudley is now shooting 29.6 percent from deep — he is a career 39.2 percent shooter from distance.
Most significantly, Dudley emerged from the bench only after rookie Rodions Kurucs was in the game. Whether that signifies a direction change by coach Kenny Atkinson or just a one-off will be answered in the coming days.