3. Kurucs playing a key role
Rookie Rodions Kurucs is coming off the best game of his very young NBA career Friday night against the Indiana Pacers, when he scored a career-high 24 points on just 11 shots.
Kurucs banged home 4-of-5 from 3-point range, hit 8-of-10 from the foul line and was the only Brooklyn Nets without a turnover in the 112-104 loss.
Kurucs did not play the last time the Nets faced the Phoenix Suns, shortly after he returned from a sprained ankle that sidelined him for five games in late October.
The rookie from Latvia has started the last five games for Brooklyn in place of injured Allen Crabbe, who will miss his sixth straight game Sunday, and has been productive.
Kurucs is averaging 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in 26.6 minutes a game as a starter, shooting 52.8 percent overall, hitting 7-of-16 from 3-point range and going 16-for-18 at the line.
In 17 games overall this season, he’s putting up 8.6 points and 3.2 rebounds on 50.5 percent shooting overall and 34.1 percent marksmanship from deep, while knocking down 90.3 percent from the stripe.
He’s impressed coaches and teammates with his instincts, energy and fearlessness.
His length has created problems for opponents at the defensive end, as he’s adept at reaching into passing lanes without having to gamble excessively, and if there is a loose ball, the odds are good Rodi is going to be around it.
He’s got a deceptively explosive first step and will take the ball to the hole aggressively, even if he still tends to do so in straight lines (a European player without a Euro step, go figure).
Kurucs got a career-high 34 minutes Friday, the first time in his rookie season he’s topped 30, and he keeps making it harder for coach Kenny Atkinson to take him off the floor.
It will be interesting to see how he follows up his gigantic night against Indiana.