D’Angelo Russell has come roaring out of the gates during the first four weeks of his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, averaging a career-high 21 points per game. However, while the rookie who replaced him in Los Angeles was putting the finishing touches on a record-breaking triple-double Saturday night, Russell limped off the court in the final moments of Brooklyn’s 114-106 loss to the Utah Jazz.
The injury occurred as Russell drove to the basket and tried to pull up with three minutes remaining. Russell grimaced as he hobbled to the bench. For a franchise that dealt with Jeremy Lin’s ruptured patellar tendon on opening night, that image gave Nets fans a scare. Their worst fears were alleviated when Russell was diagnosed with a left knee contusion.
Russell’s prognosis isn’t serious, but it will result in the third-year guard missing several games of action. Unfortunately, it couldn’t have occurred at a more inconvenient time. The Nets are sinking to their rightful place in the depths of the Eastern Conference standings after winning six of their first nine games, and backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie is also out with a sore hamstring.
The absence of Russell and Dinwiddie likely leaves reserves Isaiah Whitehead and Caris LeVert to log starting point guard duties. Conversely, the Nets’ inauspicious struggles are another dose of good news for the suddenly surging Cleveland Cavaliers, who own the Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick that’s been tossed around like a hot potato for the past few seasons.
The Nets will be underdogs in their next three home contests, against the Boston Celtics, Jazz and the Golden State Warriors, before they head on the road to face Cleveland.