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The show must go on: Nets defeat Jazz, 118-107, despite losing Russell for extended time

NBA: Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — If there’s anything certain about the Brooklyn Nets under Kenny Atkinson, it’s that they’re battling night in and night out, no matter the circumstances ... and to a man, they say he’s the reason why.

Before the game, Sean Marks addressed the media to discuss Friday’s knee surgery on D’Angelo Russell. There is no timetable for his return, but it won’t be any time soon. It almost completely overshadowed the night, but the game must go on ... and it did.

For the Nets, they needed a win in the worst way. Behind a balanced attack, led by a career-high 25-point night from Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets (6-9) defeated the Utah Jazz (6-10), 118-107. They took a 23-20 lead at the 5:07 mark of the first quarter and never looked back.

“As a starter and a point guard you try to lead. I didn’t do anything different because of the surgery. I’d like to think that we won for him because our heart goes out to him as our teammate and as our brother,” said Spencer Dinwiddie of D’Angelo Russell.

Russell tweeted out a view from his bed at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The Nets played in rhythm - and within the system - right from the start. They scored 39 points in the first – 65 in the first half - and gained their largest lead of the season at 22 in the third quarter. They dished out a season-high 18 assists in the first half to just six turnovers, while finishing the night with 27 assists to 11 turnovers.

In fact, the first half was by far the most flawless 24 minutes of basketball they’ve played this season.

Adding to the balanced attack, they nailed nine 3-pointers and shot 59 percent from the field in the first half. It was a balanced attack – the way Atkinson said it needs to be with Jeremy Lin out for the season and now Russell out for an extended period of time.

They didn’t let their foot off the gas as the second half began. They extended the lead in the third quarter, but Utah cut it to nine entering the fourth following a 19-9 run.

They withstood Utah’s attack and went up by 16 following an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer with less than five minutes. Game over. The Nets weren’t as active in the second half and dished out only nine assists compared to the 18 in the first half, but they got it done.

Dinwiddie led the charge for Brooklyn with a career-high 25 points and eight assists – 18 of his points coming from beyond the arc. The six three-pointers were also a career-high. He’s kept this team afloat throughout the season and has stepped up as a leader and legitimate system-fit.

In fact, Dinwiddie is the first player in franchise history to record 25 points, six 3-pointers and eight or more assists ... without a turnover in a game.

“When you don’t turn the ball over, then you get more attempts at the rim. So I mean, obviously basic math. If we converted a decent clip then we get more shots and we are in a decent position,” said Dinwiddie.

Allen Crabbe stepped up as well with 18 points and five rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 17 and Trevor Booker 14.

The Nets shot 46 percent — 17-of-37 from three-point range — and 51 percent overall. It was the second straight game where the Nets as a team shot 40 percent or better from beyond the arc. Each player who logged minutes for Brooklyn scored at least one bucket. Five Nets had three or more assists.

For Utah, Raul Neto led the way with 21 points. They committed 16 turnovers and shot 49 percent. Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gobert and Joe Johnson were all out. The Jazz have yet to win on the road.

"We needed a win like this to show that we can put a foot on people's throats,” said DeMarre Carroll. "We've gotta continue to get better. It won't happen overnight, we're gonna have some slippage, but at the end of the day it's my job, Kenny's [Atkinson] job and everybody in this locker rooms job to keep these guys together."

If there was any silver lining to the entire night, it’s that the Nets overcame adversity and came together as a team. The way they want it. The way Kenny Atkinson preaches it.



Prior to the game, Sean Marks and the Nets announced that guard D’Angelo Russell underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today. The procedure was performed by Dr. Riley Williams III at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Updates regarding Russell’s return will be issued as appropriate.

“This was a direct correlation to the incident that happened in Utah. I think with any 21-year-old that’s played a lot of basketball you’re going to have a little bit of wear and tear. The good thing is he’s young enough and he’s certainly going to bounce back from something like this. We’re not too concerned in that regard,” Sean Marks said.


After starting the first 14 games of the season, Timofey Mozgov did not see any time in this one. He played just six minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Boston and has seemingly lost his spot to Tyler Zeller, who logged seven points, five rebounds and a block.


"I love it. I tell all these guys this is what you live for,” Carroll said about the Warriors coming to town. “It's gonna be a packed house, we don't know how many Brooklyn Nets fans we'll have, but at the end of the day this is where you show and improve."

He continued.

"Just like we did against Cleveland, everybody doubted us and counted us out, but we gotta go out and show who we are."

The M.O. of this team.

For a different perspective, got to SLCDunk.