Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell lights up in 3rd quarter

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Coming off a 13-point, 7-turnover night at Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell delivered big Saturday in an important win over Boston.

The Brooklyn Nets needed a win Saturday night to open a three-game homestand and D’Angelo Russell — as he has done for much of the season — delivered the goods in a 110-96 victory over the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center.

Russell was coming off one of his poorer games since the All-Star break, as he was held to 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting and committed seven turnovers in Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the end of Brooklyn’s epic seven-game road trip.

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Russell’s first half wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring on Saturday. While the Nets entered intermission with a 49-48 lead, Russell wasn’t a huge factor, posting four points with five assists and three turnovers on 2-of-9 shooting in 14 minutes. He was also 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

But when the second half opened, DLo went full supernova on the Celtics, nearly outscoring Boston by himself in the third quarter.

Russell was 8-for-12 overall and 4-for-7 from deep, scoring 20 points in just eight minutes as Brooklyn broke out to a lead as large as 19 points before cruising to the win, never leading by less than double digits in the fourth quarter.

Russell scored five more points and added three assists in the fourth, finishing the night with 29 points and 10 assists, while hitting 12-of-24 overall and going 4-of-12 from deep.

He got cooking right away in the third quarter, getting a defensive rebound on Boston’s first possession and finishing the Nets’ first offensive foray of the second half with a pull=up 3.

From there it was an assortment of jumpers, floaters and deep bombs as Russell systematically demolished the Celtics defense.

When Russell has his step-back move working, there just isn’t a lot a defender can do, particularly not a slower big such as Marcus Morris after getting caught on a switch.

With his 29 points and 10 assists, Russell recorded his 11th 20/10 game of the season for the Nets and his fourth since March 17. The Nets are 8-3 in those games.

He had just two such games in his first three NBA seasons, so yes, one could say Russell has taken his game to a whole new level this year.

Russell’s career prior to this season had been marked with inconsistency and it was something that was still evident in the early part of this season.

But since the Nets got hot in early December, Russell has been much more reliable and can almost always be counted on to follow a poor outing with a strong one … or rather, several strong ones.

Russell is now averaging 23.1 points and 8.2 assists per game since the All-Star break.

Interestingly, Boston is now 11-3 this season when All-Star Kyrie Irving does not play and the Nets have delivered two of those three losses.

Not surprisingly, DLo went off in the first one, as well, scoring 34 points in a Jan. 14 victory over the Celtics as Irving was on the sidelines with an injury.

For the first time in his career, D’Angelo Russell is playing meaningful games late in the season and more often than not, he’s been delivering.

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He did so again on Saturday, in a big way, as the Nets kept pace with the other contenders for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.