It’s hard to imagine D’Angelo Russell playing much better than he did Friday night. His scoring outburst in the second quarter kept the Brooklyn Nets in the game and his stepback 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds left was the eventual game-winner.
He matched his career high with 40 points, becoming the 12th player in NBA history to score 40 points in a game in which he did not attempt a free throw.
But Russell was also resplendent as a floor leader with just one turnover to go with his seven assists as he continues to make a push for an All-Star berth.
He’s now averaging 24.2 points, 6.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds over his last 10 games while shooting 50.8 percent and canning 42.0 percent from 3-point range.
Significant also was the fact that Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie — the two heads of the Brooklyn snake — combined to score 60 of the Nets’ 117 points. Get those guys both going in the same game and you create some headaches for any opponent.
If was a rough shooting night for Joe Harris, but as he continues to do this season, Harris proved he’s no longer just a shooter.
His defense on Evan Fournier was solid, as he held the Frenchman to just 6-of-16 shooting on the night, while Harris also handed out four assists and just kept working the offense with his movement and passing even as his shot was faulty for much of the night.
He did make his third 3-pointer of the game midway through the fourth quarter as the Nets were climbing closer to the Magic, cutting the lead to four points — the closest the game had been since the first quarter.
Harris is a much better shooter at home (54.3 percent overall, 52.3 percent from deep) than he has been on the road this season (45.3 percent and 41.7 percent respectively), so it’s not a complete stunner when he’s a bit off-target in a strange arena.