1. Russell’s struggles short-circuited offense
D’Angelo Russell got the game off to a rousing start on Thursday night, stealing the ball from J.J. Redick after the Philadelphia 76ers won the opening tip and streaking downcourt for an uncontested layup.
It went downhill from there for the Brooklyn Nets’ All-Star.
Russell would make just one more shot in the first half, going to the locker room with four points on 2-of-11 shooting. He missed both of his attempts in the third quarter before getting going a bit in the fourth.
He finished with 13 points and eight assists, his lowest scoring output since he had 11 in Brooklyn’s blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons on March 11.
And even with the eight assists, he wasn’t always on point with his passes.
He missed a cutting Jared Dudley, badly, on this first-half feed.
He tried to pull off a give-and-go with Joe Harris on a potential fast-break chance and led Harris right into heavy traffic.
Russell looked for Rodions Kurucs on a back-door cut, but telegraphed the feed and Joel Embiid had plenty of time to step in.
He and Harris failed to connect here, as Russell smoked a short pass through Harris’ legs — the old 20-foot pass thrown from about five feet maneuver.
And the coup de grace of the night, an unforced, undefended double dribble in the backcourt. Oof.
He had almost half — seven — of Brooklyn’s 15 turnovers on the night and added injury to insult when he bricked a pair of free throws with 3:11 left that would have gotten the Nets back to within nine points.
NBA players are going to have nights like this and D’Angelo Russell is certainly no exception. He’s carried this Nets team down the stretch and on the season.
In a season in which every Net that’s been in the rotation aside from Ed Davis has missed time due to injury, Russell has been the constant, starting 75 of 76 games and playing at an elite level for much of that time.
The timing of this one, however, couldn’t have been much poorer for the Nets, who finished the road trip at 2-5 and fell back to .500 on the season (more on that in a bit).