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Nets’ Caris LeVert sits vs. Toronto Raptors with sore knee

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert brings the ball

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert brings the ball up court against the Denver Nuggets in the first half of at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Caris LeVert, who had moved into the starting lineup Friday, did not start or play at all Sunday because of a sore right knee. “Nothing big, just precautionary,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “A little soreness. Just playing it conservative.”

LeVert said, “It probably just got sore from playing hard in the [Friday] game. It wasn’t anything too major, just a little soreness. It was nagging a little bit. We took today off, we have [an off day Monday]. We thought that would be enough for the next game.”

He said he intends to play at Charlotte on Tuesday night.

Switch doesn’t work

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not make a case to keep his job as starting power forward in a smallish lineup. He played only 19 minutes, 41 seconds, during which time the team’s point differential was a minus-16. Overall, the Raptors outscored the Nets 58-38 in the paint.

Trevor Booker, the displaced starter, had arguably the best game of all the Nets with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a plus-8 differential.

“I knew coming in before I signed here there were going to be some growing pains, especially with the younger players,” he said. “I’m taking it all in stride and staying positive with everything.”

Acy sprains ankle

Quincy Acy, who earned a contract with his recent energetic play, sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and did not return. After the game, Atkinson said he did not have an update on the forward’s condition.

Whitehead returns

Isaiah Whitehead, who left Friday night’s game after being hit hard on the collarbone, was back in the starting lineup.

Various bumps and bruises — physical and mental — are part of learning how to deal with the long NBA schedule.

Last year at this time, Whitehead was heading toward the final phase of Seton Hall’s schedule with an eye on the Big East Tournament, which his team won. This year, he has 31 games left.

“It’s a big part of what we’re trying to establish here with the Nets, our habits,” Atkinson said, adding that he tells the rookies to observe how veteran teammates Luis Scola and Randy Foye go about their jobs. “A lot goes into it: your recovery, how you’re sleeping, your diet. For a young guy who was in college last year and approaching this point of the NBA season, it’s a difficult task. That’s another reason we brought in a lot of veteran guys. They can set a good example.

“I think with young guys, it takes some time to realize how you have to prepare, game after game. The best ones that I’ve seen are meticulous about their preparation. It’s not just practice. It’s off the floor, how they’re sleeping, what they’re eating. I think our young guys are improving in that area. They have a ways to go.”

Casey knows Nets’ struggles

Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows it takes time. He took over a team that had gone 22-60 in 2010-11 and went 23-43 in his (work stoppage-shortened) first season. Of the Nets, he said, “Well- coached. I think Kenny is doing a good job with this team, a young team, a team that is growing, developing, getting better. They run a lot of San Antonio, Atlanta sets. They’re disciplined from that standpoint. He’s doing a good job. We all have difficult jobs, but he’s doing a good job.

“The kid LeVert is developing, he has improved a lot,” said Casey, who coached Toronto to division titles the previous three seasons. “The style of play offensively is tough to guard. Defensively, they’re disciplined. [Brook] Lopez is expanding his game to outside the three. A lot of times it doesn’t equal in wins and losses, the development of the program, but you can see the foundation is going to be there.”

New York Sports