Caris LeVert’s hot play keeps this starter benched down the stretch

Caris LeVert’s hot play keeps this starter benched down the stretch

LOS ANGELES — D’Angelo Russell, still trying to get in sync with Spencer Dinwiddie, didn’t play a second of the fourth quarter in Sunday’s 123-120 loss to the Clippers. But Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said that had more to do with the red-hot form of Caris LeVert than the 22-year-old Russell.

“Caris was great. That’s it. There was no way with the game he was having [that he was coming out],” Atkinson said. “There’s only so many spots out there. So, we felt like we had to go with Caris.”

LeVert had a career-high 27 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. He added five assists, five rebounds, hit a career-high 5-of-7 from three and added two steals.

It was the most points off the bench this season by a Net, and was actually the first quality performance by their bench as a whole in awhile. The Nets bench outscored the Clippers bench 75-39.

Joe Harris had 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Dante Cunningham added 14 points.

Jahlil Okafor rejoined the Nets after missing the past five games, but did not play.

The Nets faced former teammate Sean Kilpatrick, who inked a 10-day deal with the Clippers on Sunday and went right into the rotation. He had two points in 11:25 minutes of playing time.

“With us being down eight, with two or three minutes left, we were able to squeeze a win out of that,” Kilpatrick said. “The fact that everyone is playing together, that’s impressive to me.”

Kilpatrick had 38 points in the Nets’ double overtime win over the Clippers on Nov. 29, 2016.

“He matches our DNA, guys that are tough, have an edge. I’m going to throw him on the floor. … He’s going to play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

“I’m happy for Sean,” Atkinson said. “The biggest thing about Sean is he’s a competitor. There’s guys that like to compete, but he drools at competition, enjoys it so much. I don’t think anybody on our team enjoys competing in every little drill we did, every little game we played offseason, in season, summer league. To Sean it doesn’t matter.”

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