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Nets' D’Angelo Russell working hard, on schedule to return

Brooklyn Nets center Jahlil Okafor, left, and Brooklyn

Brooklyn Nets center Jahlil Okafor, left, and Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell look on from the bench against the New York Knicks in an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

BOSTON — It has been more than six weeks since D’Angelo Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, and since Nets general manager Sean Marks previously indicated his return might take eight weeks, he might soon be ready to to practice. But coach Kenny Atkinson declined to provide specifics about Russell’s status before the Nets ended a five-game road trip with a tough 108-105 loss to the Celtics Sunday night.

“He’s progressing along with our schedule,” Atkinson said. “I’d just say he’s working his tail off. I was watching him in the gym yesterday. It’s an arduous process. He’s putting in a ton of time, he’s putting in full days. It’s been amazing to see his work ethic. He’s been great.”

Russell was the starting point guard when he was injured, but Spencer Dinwiddie has been terrific as starting point guard since then and Caris LeVert is playing his best basketball with the second unit. Is it possible Russell will return at shooting guard, where he began the season when he and Jeremy Lin were healthy?

“We’ll worry about that when we get there,” Atkinson said. “That’s a good problem to have, right? It will just be more competition for minutes and spots. Way back here in the back of my mind, I know what we want to do. But we’ve got to wait until D’Angelo is back to really address that.”

Back to Barclays

The Nets just concluded a stretch in which they played 13 of 20 games on the road. Starting New Year’s Day against the Magic, they will play eight of their next 10 games at Barclays Center.

“This seemed like a long road trip,” Atkinson said. “Good to get home, good to get in front of the Barclays fans and sleep in our own beds, get some shootarounds at home, maybe a practice. It will be good for our spirit.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suggested the Nets’ strong finish to the road trip with a win at Miami and great effort in Boston might carry over. “The way we finished the road trip and started competing more, coming home with our fans behind us, we’ll make a run,” he said.

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