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D’ANGELO RUSSELL DROPS 40, LIFTS NETS OVER HORNETS, 117-115

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, D’ANGELO! NICE PARTY!!

Safe to say, it was a good birthday for D’Angelo Russell, starting his Jordan year by breaking hearts in Jordan’s house.

It wasn’t looking good for the Nets. They were on the wrong end of a 24-4 extended run and eventually fell down six with less than three minutes left. But then, DLo stepped up and carried the Nets to a huge victory. Huge.

It started with a floater to bring it to within four, followed by an eight-foot mid-ranger from the corner. Ice time.

Russell went on to score the final 12 points as the Nets went on their 10-2 run, carrying them to a 117-115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, Saturday night. Russell finished with a career-high-tying 40 points, seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot on his 23rd birthday. Did we mention that.

Here’s the end...

It was perhaps the biggest win of the season with the Hornets on Brooklyn’s tail in the standings for the sixth seed. The Nets had lost seven of 10 entering this game, but they found a way to come away with a victory.

Russell bailed them out big time. The Hornets erased an 18-point lead in the second quarter and a 19-point lead in the third quarter following the 24-4 extended run, which was their first lead since 12-11. Kemba Walker was on fire after scoring just four points in the first half.

Instead, he finished the night with 32 points. But it came down to the final possession. With the Nets trailing by one and owning possession, Russell confidently walked up to the perimeter line and nailed a three-pointer to put Brooklyn up two with 40 seconds left.

Walker had a chance to win the game with the clock winding down, but Caris LeVert came up with a huge block that negated any idea of a loss. It was awfully close to a foul, but the refs didn’t call it.

The Nets will now go home in preparation for a three-game home stand, starting with the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.

Russell alone almost surpassed Brooklyn’s total three-pointers made in Wednesday’s loss, finishing the night with six from deep. The Nets hit just seven that night — but hit 17 on 43 attempts on Saturday.

“The basketball gods blessed me,” Russell said. “My teammates helped me be in position.”

Jarrett Allen also played well with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Although it was more of a balanced attack, Ed Davis (10 rebounds) and DeMarre Carroll (10 points) came off the bench and provided a much-needed spark.

Let this be the example for it all... This team goes wherever D’Angelo Russell takes them.

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PLAYOFF RACE

Friday night’s loss to the Trail Blazers only made things tougher for the Nets. The Hornets and Pistons both won, which put the Hornets just one game back of the Nets for the six seed and the Pistons 1 12 games back.

But by the end of the night...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DLO

We can no longer say “And he’s only 22.” Now, like Meek Mill said, “And I’m only 23, look at me!” Russell became youngest player to make 500 3-pointers earlier this month. He currently has 522. His buddy Devin Booker is six months younger and has 481 3-pointers.

Russell now has 167 three’s on the season, the most on the team. That’s 34 short of the Nets season record, held by Allen Crabbe, with 21 games less.

Either way, 22, 23 — Russell has a bright future ahead of him. You’d think he’s a veteran with all he’s been through. Happy birthday to him.

“HEY JOE”

Joe Harris had 19, hitting 3-of-4 in the same arena where he won the NBA Three Point Contest only a week ago.

Harris is now shooting 47 percent for the season.

Post-game, he said it didn’t seem like he was in the same arena he was in last Saturday night. “Different atmosphere.”

For the month of February, Harris is averaging 17.3 points and shooting an even 50 percent from deep.

BORREGO HOT AFTER GAME

Hornets coach James Borrego was not happy at the call on the final play but was not so direct that he jeopardized being fined.

“It’s very difficult. It’s difficult,” said Borrego after the game. “These are the moments, your guys battle. We put ourselves in position to win. It’s not easy out there. I understand it’s a tough game to call, but this is extremely frustrating for our team.”

He added, “We didn’t come out with the right urgency, the right focus tonight, but I was proud of our effort to get back in that game. We battled and we’ll continue to battle.”

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For a different perspective —and probably not a happy one— head on over to At the Hive, our Hornets sister site on SB Nation.

The Nets will face the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, the first of three straight home games.