1. Russell puts up big numbers, but …
To be clear, the Brooklyn Nets aren’t in a position to win the game against the Portland Trail Blazers without the night D’Angelo Russell had.
The fourth-year guard scored 39 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had eight assists — he came up huge.
But he also had six turnovers — two in the fourth quarter and three in the second overtime period — and made some decisions on shot attempts that helped keep Portland in the game.
In a game that lasted 58 minutes, you could come back to one moment in time, one decision, that really swung the momentum around.
Brooklyn was up 10 and was in the midst of a 9-2 run after Caris LeVert knocked down a jumper with 6:07 to go and the Nets had followed that up with a stop on the defensive end when Jusuf Nurkic missed a floater from just inside the foul line and Ed Davis cleaned up the miss.
There was 5:47 left when Davis got the ball to Russell to start the possession for the Nets.
Five seconds later, Russell opted to take a contested pull-up 3-pointer without ever really initiating anything offensively. This isn’t the shot you want in this situation.
It was a poor time to take a quick shot — Brooklyn was, again, up 10, had the momentum and could have used a solid possession while running a bit of clock.
Ten seconds after Russell’s miss, Damian Lillard responded with a pull-up 3-pointer of his own — an open one — and the Blazers outscored the Nets 18-8 down the stretch to force overtime.
It was Seth Curry’s steal after Russell got a bit loose with the ball on the dribble that led to Portland tying the game.
After Nurkic had gotten the first bucket of the second overtime period by bullying his way past the much-smaller Jared Dudley, Russell held the ball away from his body while surveying the court and never saw Maurice Harkless coming.
The Nets dodged the bullet there when Nurkic couldn’t convert his shot attempt, but it was indicative of the sort of second half and overtime Russell had — things were just a half-a-beat out of sync.
Russell had a terrific night shooting the ball inside the arc, going 13-for-20 and getting to the free throw line eight times, but was just 3-for-14 from deep.
He missed his first attempt and then splashed one from well behind the line on his second try. That started a domino effect of heat checks that continued throughout the game.
It wasn’t that D’Angelo Russell played poorly — you don’t put up 39/9/8 on a bad night. Rather, it was a question of decision making and situational awareness. Russell has been exceptional at both for much of the latter part of the season, but on Monday there were some serious lapses.