Nets crush Warriors in D’Angelo Russell’s return to Brooklyn
NEW YORK — Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks are respected veterans on a gutted Golden State team, guys who helped them look like the Warriors of old recently.
And when word came that they were likely getting traded, the rest of the roster couldn’t summon much spirit to play without them.
The Nets ran them all off the floor, giving D’Angelo Russell a bruising welcome back to Brooklyn with a 129-88 rout on Wednesday night.
“We were messed up as a team,” Russell said. “Guys that have been riding with us since training camp. You develop a bond in this league and when it goes like that, we’re human, so it’s hard for you to just go out there and escape that.”
The Warriors held out Robinson and Burks on the eve of the NBA’s trade deadline.
“For the team to find out that those two guys are most likely going to be traded was pretty tough,” coach Steve Kerr said. “So we all kind of just found out prior to the game. There’s not a very good way to prepare for a game when something like that happens and I think it showed.”
The guys who did play for the Warriors fell behind 20-4, missed 20 of their 22 3-point attempts in the first half and trailed by as many as 44 points against a Nets defense that forward Joe Harris said was locked in.
“But then a little bit of that I think can be attributed to … the fact that they’re kind of going through sort of an unfortunate time with guys getting traded right before the game and to be at the end of a long road trip,” Harris said.
Caris LeVert scored 23 points, Harris added 17 and Garrett Temple had 16 for the Nets, who beat the Warriors for the first time in nearly five years. LeVert, after tying his career high with 29 points in his last outing, also had eight assists.
Russell got a nice ovation from fans, a tribute video from the Nets, and nothing else he’ll want to remember about the night. He scored 17 points but was 0 for 8 from 3-point range and the Warriors were outscored by 29 points in his 18 first-half minutes.
“Heck of a player. Glad we slowed him down a little, but definitely an advantage when you know a guy,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
Golden State finished 5 for 39 (13%) from beyond the arc.
Russell had two good seasons in Brooklyn and was a first-time All-Star last season. But he was expendable once the Nets signed Kyrie Irving and he was sent to Golden State in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Kevin Durant to Brooklyn.
Russell’s name has also been connected to trade reports and he sat out Monday in Washington with what was called a bruised right quadriceps, but he returned to the starting lineup Wednesday. Fans chanted “Thank you, D-Lo! Thank you, D-Lo!” in appreciation of his role in leading Brooklyn back to the postseason last year.
The Warriors were coming off their first consecutive 120-point outings of the season. Robinson had back-to-back performances of 20 or more points for the first time in his career during those victories, and Burks scored 30 on Monday in Washington.
The Nets rang up 40 points in the first quarter and were ahead 95-64 after three, their largest lead at home after three quarters since moving to Brooklyn in 2012.
Warriors: Golden State finished 2-3 on its trip through the East. … Kerr said he was happy for Warriors assistant Mike Brown, who will coach Nigeria’s men’s basketball team in the Olympics.
Nets: Durant shared a hug and conversation with former teammate Stephen Curry after the game. … Brooklyn has won four straight home games. … The 31-point margin was the Nets’ largest lead at home after three since they were ahead of Denver by 37 on Feb. 7, 2009.
HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
Atkinson said he pays no attention to trade rumors, focusing only on coaching his players. Kerr is just the opposite. A former player and general manager, he thinks it’s important in his role as coach to know what is being reported.
“I’m an NBA fan as well as a coach. I want to know what’s going on around the league, so I read a lot of the stuff,” Kerr said. “Given where we are as a team, things can affect our group. So I need to be up to date on what’s happening so that I can be aware of what our players are reading and what they’re seeing, because it’s not easy to go through the trade deadline as a player. I’ve been there before.”
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
The Warriors had won eight straight meetings since the Nets’ last victory on March 2, 2015. It was their longest current winning streak and Brooklyn’s longest current skid against any opponent.
Warriors: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Nets: Visit Toronto on Saturday.