1. D’Angelo Russell singlehandedly won this game.
Was this the best performance by any player during the NBA season?
Yes, I’m being completely over-reactionary. (James Harden’s 44-point scoring night and game-winning shot against the Golden State Warriors would like to have a word about this bold claim).
But D-Lo was absolutely godly against the Kings.
Entering the fourth quarter, it seemed all but impossible for the Nets to come back from such a cavernous deficit.
Russell had been playing well throughout the game — certainly better than the rest of his Brooklyn teammates. Through three quarters, Russell had recorded 17 points.
What happened in the fourth quarter was almost inexplicable. D-Lo played like a man possessed by the ghosts of Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny and the entire Monstars team.
Interestingly, he got himself going by scoring inside-out.
Maybe the sheer nature of the huge deficit played a role, but Russell started playing with an “f’ it” attitude we haven’t seen from him all season. On multiple drives in a row, D-Lo put his head down and attacked downhill.
From there, Russell finished with a multitude of pretty layups and glamorous up-and-under finishes. There was no fear in his eyes of getting blocked, no awkward floaters, nothing like that. Just correct basketball decisions and supreme aggressiveness.
I’ll tell you this: if D-Lo played with this much tenacity around the basket, he’d be a household name in the NBA. Weirdly enough, he almost looked faster against the Kings. Maybe he was just displaying his top-end speed free of hesitation.
The beauty of all of this was that Russell didn’t even have that great of a shooting night from deep. D-Russ ended up with six made threes out 15 attempts.
His persistence in the restricted area late in the fourth forced the defense to give him space. In turn, this provided the first-time All-Star with more room to launch shots from deep; two of which he canned in the clutch.
Also worth noting: Russell was excellent in transition down the stretch. This must have been basketball porn for Nets coach Kenny Atkinson to play spectator to.
All layups and 3s. Just what Kenny likes.
After some iffy performances in Oklahoma City and Utah, it was certainly encouraging to see Russell get back to being himself against LA, and now, Sacramento.