MILWAUKEE — D’Angelo Russell played a superb offensive game with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 10 assists to lead the Nets to a 133-128 upset over the Bucks, who have the NBA’s best record Saturday night at Fiserv Forum. It was a game the Nets needed desperately to reach sixth-place in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race, but Russell insisted they need the second game of a back-to-back set against the Pacers Saturday night in Indianapolis just as much.
“Every game we play from here on out is going to be a big one; any one that we get is going to be a big one,” Russell said. “This is no different from the last one that we won.”
Asked about his mindset for the Pacers game, Russell said, “Come back, Erase this one. Must-win game. Just get as prepared as we can for it . . . We’ve got to treat it like it’s the last one. Can’t get comfortable. It’s too late.”
Russell admitted the Bucks’ decision to sit out MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo with a sore left calf made a big difference from the game the Nets lost to the Bucks Monday night at Barclays Center. He also credited Nets’ veteran Jared Dudley, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals, for making key plays.
“Big time,” Russell said of Dudley. “When he goes out and plays, he does what he says. He picks the game apart mentally. That’s why his plus-minus is what it is, that’s why he gets easy layups. He makes it easy for us.”
It was reported Russell made a heady move earlier this week by calling Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and urging him to play Friday night in a win over the Heat that helped the Nets’ playoff position.
“I talked to Karl today actually,” Russell said with a smile. “I told him thanks. That’s my brother. He played his heart out. He could’ve easily sat it down. Shout out to KAT.”