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Kenny Atkinson hopes resurgent Caris LeVert can provide a boost

The Nets coach wants him to provide a kick over the last few games.

Nets guard Caris LeVert looks on after he

Nets guard Caris LeVert looks on after he scores a basket against the Celtics during the second half at Barclays Center on March 30. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Caris LeVert played the strongest game yet since returning from his dislocated ankle in Monday’s loss to the Bucks. He was on the floor for 30 minutes and produced 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including 4 of 8 from three-point range, and he added six assists and four rebounds.

With four regular-season games left, starting with the Nets’ contest with the Raptors Wednesday night at Barclays Center, coach Kenny Atkinson expressed hope that LeVert can provide the boost his team needs for the finishing kick.

“I think he’s in a good place,” Atkinson said of LeVert’s physical condition. “We talked about him building on these last couple of games. It could give us the edge, the boost we need. We need it to come from somewhere, quite honestly. Someone’s got to step up above and beyond and take it to another level. He’s a good candidate to do it, and I think he’s in a good place.”

Atkinson said he also has challenged point guard D’Angelo Russell to find the right balance between scoring and playmaking, depending on the game situation, and he spoke to Russell and backup Spencer Dinwiddie about dialing up their defense.

“I talked to [Russell] and Spencer yesterday about just stepping it up defensively,” Atkinson said, “taking it to another level to kind of push us across the finish line.”

Atkinson thrilled about Pinson, LI Nets win

Atkinson did not attend the Long Island Nets’ overtime victory for the Eastern Conference title in the G League Tuesday night at NYCB Live, but he monitored the game on his phone and was thrilled for two-way contract player Theo Pinson, who hit the game-winning three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left.

“I think it’s poetic justice, him making that shot in the fashion he did,” Atkinson said. “He’s kind of our bench leader and a wonderful kid. He’s improved tremendously down there. Thrilled for him, thrilled for Long Island going to the finals. It really sets a positive note for our program. It’s great.”

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