Brooklyn Nets: Legend of D’Angelo Russell gets a new chapter

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell put a signature on his breakout season Tuesday, scoring 27 points in the 4th quarter to lead the Nets to an epic win.

Great players put their teams on their backs and will them to victory, even when such a feat seems impossible. By that definition, D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets has graduated into the pantheon of great players after what he did in the fourth quarter Tuesday in Sacramento.

Russell scored 27 points in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings as the Nets pulled off a comeback for the ages, erasing a 28-point deficit in the final 13:16 of the game to stun the Kings at Golden 1 Center, 123-121.

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Brooklyn pulled off the comeback with Russell leading one of the most unlikely 5-man units the Nets could throw out there.

Coach Kenny Atkinson rolled for all but 15 seconds in the fourth quarter with Russell teamed with not one, not two, not three, but all four players who have started at the 4 position for Brooklyn this season.

Rodions Kurucs, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jared Dudley played the entire fourth quarter. Treveon Graham sat the final five seconds to allow Joe Harris to trigger the inbounds play that resulted in Hollis-Jefferson’s game-winner with 0.8 second remaining.

To say that D’Angelo Russell had a big hand in what the Nets were able to pull off in the fourth quarter would be an understatement of galactic proportions. Russell scored 27 points and had four assists in the final period.

So he had a direct hand in 36 of Brooklyn’s 45 points as they stormed back from a 103-78 deficit to begin the fourth period.

Sacramento had seemingly put the game away when it opened the second half with a 20-0 run to take its first 28-point lead with 7:37 to go in the third quarter.

DLo wound up having a pretty good game … in the final 11:45 of the fourth. He was 10-for-15 from the floor in the period, going 4-of-7 from deep.

That propelled him to a new career-high, 44 points, to go with 12 assists and four steals.

In Sunday’s loss to the LA Clippers, Russell posted his first career 30-point, 10-assist game, becoming the youngest Net to do so since Richard Jefferson, who pulled it off on March 31, 2003, at 22 years, 283 days old.

One game later, Russell entered even more rarefied air, becoming just the fourth player in Nets history — and the first since the team moved to Brooklyn — with a 40-point, 10-assist game.

Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury each turned the trick twice while the Nets were still in New Jersey, while Vince Carter did it once. Devin Harris had been the last Net to achieve the rare double when he had 41 points and 13 dimes in a Dec. 19, 2008, victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Russell is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason and after earning his first All-Star berth, becoming the on-court leader of a playoff-caliber team and then pulling off that whole 27-point fourth quarter thing to lead his team back from 28 down to win? Yeah, someone is throwing max money his direction.

As for the magnitude of what the Nets did? ESPN Stats & Info laid out the rarity of the feat.

Yes, Brooklyn became just the fourth team since 1954-55 to win a game when trailing by at least 25 points entering the fourth quarter. They are just the second to do it on the road.

Per, the other three were:

  • The Milwaukee Bucks, who trailed the Atlanta Hawks at Atlanta 104-76, came back for a 117-115 victory on Nov. 25, 1977.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers, who trailed the Dallas Mavericks 88-61, came back for a 105-103 victory on Dec. 6, 2002.
  • The Hawks, who trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers 93-67, came back to win in overtime 126-125 on April 9, 2017.

This was Russell’s fourth career 40-point game and his third since Jan. 18. He scored 40 on March 19, 2017, while with the Los Angeles Lakers in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Russell matched that 40-point total in road wins over the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 18 and Feb. 23, respectively.

In the win over the Kings, Russell finished 17-for-33 overall and 6-for-15 from 3-point range.

He is now averaging 20.7 points, 6.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 30.1 minutes per game while shooting 43.2 percent overall and 36.6 percent on 7.7 3-point attempts per game.

Aside from the rebounding and steals averages, those are all career-highs. Tuesday’s game was his 10th double-double of the season. Russell had eight double-doubles in his first three NBA seasons combined.

His six 3-pointers also pushed his total this season to 202, breaking the franchise record of 201 set by Allen Crabbe last season.

After three losses to start their current seven-game road trip, Brooklyn was teetering, their playoff position in serious jeopardy for the first time in months.

Instead, the Nets are now back to within a half-game of the sixth-place Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference and 1½ games clear of the Miami Heat. They increased their edge over the ninth-place Magic to three games (plus the head-to-head tiebreaker) and are now up 4½ games on Charlotte.

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And the Brooklyn Nets are in that position thanks in large part to the late-game efforts of their star, D’Angelo Russell, whose legend had another chapter added to it with a positively transcendent performance.