Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich watches his team play during...

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich watches his team play during the first half against the Nets on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, at Barclays Center. Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

The Nets game against San Antonio Wednesday night at Barclays Center was designated as “Pride Night,” celebrating contributions of the LGBT community. As a frequent critic of President Trump, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked before the game if it was especially important for NBA teams to address social issues in the current political climate.

Popovich, a former Air Force officer, of course is aware of the ban the Trump administration attempted to impose against transgender soldiers in the military. “I think it’s unimportant to have to do it for a reason other than it’s a good idea and making sure we all understand there are social issues in the country that can be addressed, should be addressed,” Popovich said.

“That’s the reason why you do it, not necessarily because it’s a certain individual. Whether it’s honoring the military or the LGBT community, it doesn’t matter. We have a responsibility and a platform. So, to use it is wise and responsible.”

Russell closer to returning

Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell took part Wednesday morning in the shootaround with the Nets and then played three-on-three as he moves closer to returning from arthroscopic knee surgery. “He had a really good three-on-three,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “The reports on it were excellent. I’m excited, it’s trending in the right direction. I think we’re getting close.”

Okafor’s minutes drop

After scoring 17 points in a win over the Hawks, Jahlil Okafor played a combined 15 minutes in the Nets’ next two games, both losses. Asked why Okafor’s minutes have declined, Atkinson said, “I think the seven minutes he was in [against the Knicks] we didn’t play very well. He’s been excellent with his attitude and his ability to grasp what we’re doing. In some cases, you’re getting little bites of minutes and you’ve got to take advantage of every minute . . . We’re still getting to know him. We haven’t lost confidence.”

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