The Brooklyn Nets continue their road trip in Portland Monday night with D'Angelo Russell riding a string of three consecutive double-doubles. The point guard went for 21 points and 13 assists in Friday night's 111-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"My job as far as putting guys in position to make plays, balance when to score and when to pass and facilitate," said Russell. "They were blitzing me early and getting the ball out of my hands. I still wanted to keep guys in position the score. The outcome was what it was. They weren't allowing me to come in and dominate by scoring. I try to do both and keep that balance right."
Russell spread the ball around as he continued to face defenses blitzing the point guard on pick and rolls plays.
"He's Joe Cool," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "He's just got a cool demeanor about him. Like I said before the game, confidence, cool, I don't know what that is. I know I don't have it. I'm a nervous guy. He's just cool. Doesn't get fazed. He's one of those guys, special guys, they really enjoy the moment. They don't get flustered. I never see him get frustrated. And keeps his cool, keeps his composure and keeps his IQ. Some guys, things go wrong and they go haywire. He kind of keeps locked in. That's a special thing he has."
Friday night's performance followed a career-high 44 points with 12 assists in the comeback win over Sacramento and 32 points and 10 assists against the Clippers. Those marked the first two 30-plus point double-doubles of Russell's career. With the double-double against the Lakers, he posted three straight double-doubles for the first time in his career.
"He seemed like his normal self," said Joe Harris. "He's been locked in all year, so this wasn't any different at all and he came out played unbelievable. I don't know how many assists he finished with, but he was doing an incredible job just facilitating. They were trying to get the ball out of his hands, so they were blitzing him pretty much every pick and roll of his and he just did a good job making the right plays, simple plays, and making great passes out of it."
After three straight losses to open their seven-game road trip, the Nets stabilized things with wins against the Kings and Lakers last week. The middle of the road trip presented opportunity for Brooklyn, with the Kings and Lakers the only teams on the trip not currently in playoff position. The Nets close up their journey with the Blazers Monday and the Sixers Thursday.
"I think we kind of all knew that," said Kenny Atkinson. "We didn't talk about it. It was important getting these two, especially the way we started the trip and losing the Clippers game. But I will say this, it would be great to get a bonus one. We're looking ahead already. I just told the guys in the locker room, we've got two left on this trip, I'd love to, if we could split them that would be a huge bonus. Would give us a lot of momentum going into the rest of our schedule."
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS
The Trail Blazers (45-27) are in fourth place in the Western Conference, a game behind third-place Houston and two games in front of the fifth-place Clippers. They've won six of their last seven, even with guard CJ. McCollum sidelined for the last three games with a knee injury. Portland is third in the NBA in rebounding (47.6) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (36.0). Damian Lillard leads the Blazers with 26.3 points and 6.7 assists per game. Jusuf Nurkic averages 15.4 points and 10.3 rebounds.