Ask Steve Clifford about the rising Nets and he’ll first point at their point guard. The Magic coach is a D’Angelo Russell fan.
“He’s the biggest key,” Clifford said before Russell contributed 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the Nets’ 114-110 win Wednesday night at Barclays Center. “He’s playing at an incredibly high level. They’re winning more than anything else because of their point-guard play.
“There aren’t many teams who have a guy playing at the level Russell is, or [Spencer] Dinwiddie. They’re particularly difficult to defend when you put the two of them out there together . . . [Russell] is a terrific, terrific offensive player. For me, that’s where it starts.”
In his previous four games, Russell averaged 28.8 points, 7.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He averaged .517 shooting overall and .522 from three-point range.
“Even for this league, that’s a roll,” Clifford said.
Russell shot 16-for-25, including 8-for-12 on his three-point tries, and scored 40 in the Nets’ win at Orlando last Friday. Clifford marveled at his long pull-up jumpers.
“That’s Steph Curry stuff there,” Clifford said.
Dinwiddie scored 29 off the bench in this rematch. It marked the fourth time the backup point guard and Russell have scored at least 20 in the same game, including both victories against the Magic. Russell said they’re “realizing how to play off each other.”
“I just think when we’re both aggressive,” Russell said, “it works out best for us.”
It was the 10th time that Dinwiddie scored at least 25 as a reserve. That tied the Nets’ single-season record set by Bubbles Hawkins in 1976-77, their inaugural season in the NBA . . . Russell had his fifth game with at least 20 points and 10 seasons. He did that twice in his first three seasons combined.