Brooklyn Nets: 3 takeaways from important win at Los Angeles

Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets D’Angelo Russell (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

1. Russell did enough to get the Nets the win

Heading into the road trip, D’Angelo Russell said to anyone that would listen that his return to face the Los Angeles Nets at Staples Center for a second time was much bigger than just trying to gain some personal revenge against the team that traded him to the Brooklyn Nets nearly two years ago.

Instead, Russell said the trip — and the game — was about the Nets continuing to strive for the playoffs, putting his priority on the team’s goals rather than any personal satisfaction.

Still, he gained a measure of retribution with 21 points and 13 assists while leading Brooklyn to a season sweep of the Lakers. Russell distributed the ball well and shook off some turnover problems, most of which came while trying to penetrate inside.

The officials didn’t have their best night of the season, either, with some questionable no-calls as Russell was being pinballed around a bit as he attempted to probe the interior of the Los Angeles defense.

He finished with six turnovers, the most egregious of which came when he lobbed a pass toward Spencer Dinwiddie on an inbounds play with 56.6 seconds remaining. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope intercepted the soft pass and DeMarre Carroll wound up fouling LeBron James at the other end.

James made both free throws after missing his previous four tries from the stripe as Los Angeles cut the Brooklyn lead to three at 109-106.

After an ill-advised 3-point attempt by Russell, who was looking for a foul that would not be forthcoming, gave the Lakers a chance to tie the game, but James committed his eighth turnover of the game while trying to penetrate and Brooklyn was able to close the game out.

Russell finished the night 8-for-20 from the floor and 4-for-11 from deep. Coupled with his six turnovers, it was easy to say the Nets’ All-Star has had better nights this season.

But the Nets came out with the win, eliminating the Lakers from the playoffs in the process. If that was truly the litmus test by which Russell was measuring the success of the night, then he and the Nets were up to the challenge.

And as for the whole revenge thing?

There is just one player currently on the Lakers roster — Brandon Ingram, who is out for the season (presumably) after surgery to clear a deep veined thrombosis in his right arm — who was in Los Angeles when Russell was with the club.

So that takes most of the shine off the revenge angle. I mean, sure, Russell got to show Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson up close and personal what Johnson gave up on in June 2017 when he sent Russell to the Nets.

When one party is on the court and the other is upstairs in a luxury box somewhere, it does have the effect of muting the revenge angle to a significant degree.