Brooklyn Nets Guard D'Angelo Russell Extends His Game

D'Angelo Russell celebrated his first career Player of the Week honor on Monday afternoon with the kind of performance that could easily help him earn another.

The Nets guard buried the Sacramento Kings with 31 points on 7-for-14 shooting from 3-point range plus eight assists as Brooklyn outscored the Kings by 34 points in the second half of its 123-94 win. That included making all four of his 3-point attempts and scoring 14 points in the third quarter as the Nets turned a five-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead.

It was Russell's third 30-point game in his last four, with 34-point and 40-point outings last week fueling his selection as NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

"It's a blessing," said Russell of the honor following the Nets' fourth straight win. "I want to thank God for that, putting me in a position to do that, my teammates, the coaching staff. I want to keep going. It's something you can really take time and appreciate it right now as player of the week, but I think we've got bigger goals in mind as far as the next game, taking each game, putting that our main priority and taking advantage of it."

Honors aside -- and yes, All-Star Game buzz is deservedly getting louder -- Russell is continuing to push his game to new levels.

The most attention-grabbing piece of it all lately is his surge from 3-point range, in both takes and makes. There are eight games this season in which Russell has attempted more than 10 3-pointers, and four of them have come in the last two weeks, including three of the last four games. Russell has made seven or more 3-pointers in a game four times this season, again, including three of the last four games.

"I think just because of teams are cognizant of him shooting in that mid-range, they might try and force and go under a little bit more and he's just doing a really good job of stopping behind and taking what the defense gives him," said Joe Harris. "D'Angelo's just a real cerebral player. He's got a really good feel for the game and he always seems to be a step ahead of everybody else."

With Monday's shooting display, Russell is 15-for-26 from 3-point range in his last two games. Over his last four, he's 24-for-46 (52.2 percent). In 10 January games, Russell is making 44.8 percent of his 3-pointers as part of shooting 50.0 percent overall while averaging 24.0 points per game.

"Those pull-up threes are something," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "Those are Harden-esque. They switch, and he gives a couple moves, couple dribbles and punishes the switch with the pull-up three. And then I thought, later, he mixed in the drive against the switches. So, to me, that was a growth area for him, handling switches better. But if he keeps making that pull-up three, it's going to be tough to keep him in front. Impressive, impressive shots he hit tonight."

During this season-changing stretch in which the Nets have won 17 of their last 22 games since Dec. 7, Russell is averaging 20.7 points and 7.3 assists while shooting 47.3 percent overall and 40.3 percent from 3-point range, pushing his season-long numbers to career-high rates in all four categories.

"I think you're just seeing him playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Harris. "Everything that we do offensively, he is the lifeblood of us. Everything flows through him. He does a really good job of dictating the pace, getting guys in rhythm and just doing a really good job on every level. He does a really good job facilitating for others and himself. Obviously we are really lucky to have a player of his caliber on our team."