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Dagger with Ice: Russell drops 36 in triple OT victory over Cavaliers, 148-139

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It would’ve been despair. It would’ve been unjust, given how the Nets have played the last two months. It would’ve been a three-game losing streak entering the All-Star break.

But DeMarre Carroll and D’Angelo Russell made all of those thoughts disappear into the Ohio night..

It’s double OT. The Cavs led by three after hitting two free throws, and all hope looked lost for the Nets. That’s when the veteran, DeMarre Carroll, made a veteran move and faked a hand-off to Joe Harris and freed himself up for an open three-pointer, sending this one to triple OT.

Triple OT... That’s when Russell showed exactly why he’s an All-Star.

It started with a 14-foot mid-ranger jumper. Next, it was a floater in the lane. Then, it was a 27-foot three-pointer to give the Nets a four-point lead. Soon thereafter, it was another pull-up jumper to take an eight-point lead with 2:11 left.

And Ian Eagle shouts, “D’Angelo Russell wants to go home!”

Or Charlotte...

Jordan Clarkson who had himself a career night with 42 points wasn’t letting up. He nailed a three-pointer and made it a four-point game. But Russell came right back and nailed a dagger (with ice) to put Brooklyn up seven with 43.5 seconds left

And Ian Eagle shouts, “D’ANGELO RUSSELL IS NOT HUMAN!”

And that was that. The Nets won by a final score of 148-139. Russell finished with 36 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He was 1-of-11 at one point in the first half and turned the ball over seven times, but the Nets needed him to return to form in order to win this game.

And that he did. Even though it was ugly, it was fun. DLo tweeted post-game.

The Nets enter the All-Star Break with a 30-29 record, currently holding down the six spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re 22-11 since December 6.

They’ll need to recharge and there will be several guys in different spots. You have four guys in Charlotte for the weekend — more than any other team, others on vacation and maybe a few still in the gym looking to get back into playing shape and/or healthy.

The Nets haven’t been playing their best ball of late and don’t think Kenny Atkinson is going to suddenly forget that over the break.

This game, until that third OT, was the perfect example of their recent woes.

The Nets had the game in their hands with 16 seconds left in the first overtime. They had the ball for three straight possessions after the Cavs failed to caress two defensive rebounds. Russell was fouled and gave the Nets a two-point lead, which was soon tied on a Collin Sexton layup with 2.7 seconds left.

The Nets struggled to inbound the ball and forced a lob pass to Carroll. Carroll saved it to Jarrett Allen, who grabbed and missed a contested mid-range jump shot.

This game was closer than it ever should’ve been. The Nets had dug themselves into a 12-point deficit, then had to climb their way out and finally find a way to finish. With 6:06 remaining, the Nets owned a 98-95 lead. Less than one minute later, the Cavaliers led by three following an 8-2 run.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 12 of 18 points late in the fourth and singlehandedly kept the Nets in the game, often with off-balance shots that had not right to go into (but did). Jordan Clarkson missed the go-ahead bucket, then Caris LeVert missed what would’ve been the game-winning three-pointer.

The rest turned into history.

—It marked the most points (148) the Nets have scored in a road game in franchise history, and is tied for the second-most in any game in franchise history.

—Russell (14 points in the third OT) became the sixth player in NBA history to score 14+ points in an OT period

—Russell recorded his 10th 30-point game of the season, the most for a Net in a season in the Brooklyn era (since 2012-13) and the most for a Net since Brook Lopez’s 10 in the 2010-11 season.

—Allen blocked a career-high six shots.

—Russell is now averaging 20 points a game.

Joe Harris dropped 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Carroll finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. In his third game back, Caris LeVert finished with a near triple-double with 12 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in 30 minutes. Allen also finished with a near triple double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and those SIX blocked shots.

They shot 46 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.

For Cleveland, Clarkson led with 42, while Colin Sexton chipped in 24 and Marquese Chriss 23. The tanking Cavs have won 12 games.

Sorry Cleveland but in Brooklyn, they’re celebrating.

No matter how ugly it was, no matter how tough it needed to be: They got the win. They enter the All-Star break leading the NBA in most clutch situations in which you are within five points with five minutes or less.

They have players coming back from injury and haven’t been playing their best ball, but their heads are still above water and the six seed after 59 isn’t too shabby.

The rest is much-needed and well deserved.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Hey now, you’re an All-Star.

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INJURY REPORT

It was another night filled with absentees for the Nets:

Rodions Kurucs (left elbow sprain), Treveon Graham (personal), Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb), Jared Dudley (hamstring) and Dzanan Musa (G League). Kenny Atkinson said Kurucs should be able to play in the Rising Stars Challenge Saturday and he expects Graham to be back once the break is over.

And for the Cavs, Kevin Love (rest) and Tristan Thompson (foot) were out.

PLAYOFF RACE

Things are getting a little too close for comfort despite the Nets standing as the sixth seed in the East. They’re one game ahead of the Charlotte Hornets and 2 12 ahead of the Detroit Pistons for the dreaded nine seed.

And after three overtimes, the Nets are a game and a half ahead of the seven seed Hornets and two and a half ahead of the eight seed Pistons, who have the same record as the Heat, who are out of the playoffs for now,

D’ANGELO RUSSELL IS ON TOP OF THE WORLD

In the Godfather, they say “revenge is a dish best served cold” meaning that revenge is more satisfying if exacted when unexpected or long feared. While the Lakers are crumbling in the Western Conference standings, Russell is leading an unexpected playoff charge for the Brooklyn Nets.

He spoke with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report and had plenty of telling statements, but the one that stood out the most was the one about the Lakers. It was basically first real comments about his former team and he didn’t bash them, instead he was just being brutally honest in talking about his own situation.

“I can’t imagine what they’re trying to block out,” Russell says. Later, he adds: “If [the Lakers] didn’t let me go then, they were gonna let me go now, and I’d be going through what they’re going through. Best thing that happened in my career.”

Take that, Magic.

ALLEN CRABBE ... or AC?!

Crabbe had missed 26 straight games with a worry that it would take him a while to get back into rhythm. Wrong. Entering Wednesday, “AC” was shooting 57 percent from three. “I’m just looking to be consistent,” he told Michael Grady in the pre-game show. He was only 2-of-6 vs. the Cavaliers, however.

AND JUST BECAUSE... (BROOKLYN RUNS NY)

***

For a different perspective, go to Fear the Sword, our Cavs sister site on SB Nation.

Next up: The All-Star Break! The Nets are back on Thursday, February 21 for “Ian Eagle Night” against the Trail Blazers.

Here’s the All-Star schedule, including which Nets will participate.

—Friday, Feb. 19 (9 p.m. ET): Rising Stars Challenge, featuring Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen

—Saturday, Feb. 20 (8 p.m. ET): Skills Challenge, Three-point contest and the Slam Dunk Contest. Joe Harris will participate the three-point contest.

—Sunday, Feb 21 (8 p.m. ET): NBA All-Star Game featuring D’Angelo Russell.

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