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D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in win over Heat, 104-92

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Caris LeVert sent Russell a text after his injury, giving him advice and trusting him to guide this team while he’s out.

“We have everything we need, even with me going down. We just need everything from everybody.”

Russell entered the night averaging 22 points and seven assists since LeVert went down, asserting himself as the leader of this team with its high scorer out. Still, the Nets lost four out of five entering Tuesday.

It looked like it might be five out of six in an ugly affair at Miami with the Nets down 78-74 in the third quarter. The Nets answered with a 14-2 extended run, led by DeMarre Carroll, and took an 88-80 lead, but Miami brought it within three at 90-87 following three straight turnovers from the Nets.

It felt like the same old script with the question... Who steps up?

The answer was Russell. He scored eight points in the midst of a 12-3 run that brought Brooklyn’s lead to eight with 2:13 left.

The Heat (6-11) didn’t have another push in them and the Nets (8-10) took them down, 104-92. The Nets held the Heat to 13 points in the first quarter and 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“I consider myself one of the closers of this team,” D’Angelo Russell said after the game.

Russell finished the night with 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists and a career-high tying four steals. He’s recorded 20+ points and 6+ assists in three consecutive games, the longest such streak since he was with the Lakers.

“Listen, he’s played great basketball. There’s no doubt about it. He’s in a good way right now,” Kenny Atkinson said of DLo. “I think his defense is improving, and he’s an improving young player.”

Brooklyn shot 43 percent and turned the ball over only 11 times. They were far from perfect, but one thing they did well was rebound the ball, particularly on the offensive glass, where they grabbed 13 boards. Jarrett Allen led that charge with 13 points, 14 rebounds (5 offensive) and two blocked shots.

Spencer Dinwiddie led a balanced attack from the bench with 16 points and seven assists. The reserves scored 52 points with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson chipping in 10 points and Carroll with 11.

The Nets are a game out of the eighth seed at 8-10. It’s early, but these are the type of games they need to get if they plan on competing for that spot.

Hassan Whiteside was a monster for Miami, finishing with 21 points and 23 rebounds. He played well, but the Heat shot just 36 percent on the night and committed 14 turnovers.

INACTIVES

Brooklyn: Treveon Graham (left hamstring strain), Caris LeVert (subtalar dislocation, right foot), Dzanan Musa (G League assignment).

MIAMI: Goran Dragic (knee), Tyler Johnson (hamstring).

STEPPING UP

Since Caris LeVert injured his ankle against the Minnesota Timberwolves (4 games), D’Angelo Russell is averaging 22.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game on 51.7 percent shooting from three. He’s averaging 30 minutes per game in that span.

Spencer Dinwiddie has also stepped up during that time, averaging 17 points and six assists in 27 minutes off the bench.

DINWIDDIE’S KICKS - For WADE

CITY EDITION RESPECT

Like Dinwiddie, we’ll pay respect to the enemy. The Heat wore these and they are fire. That is all.

Total Crockett and Tubbs.

For another perspective, head on over to Hot Hot Hoops, the Heat sister site on SB Nation.

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NEXT: The second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks, 8:30pm ET.