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Clippers coach Doc Rivers says Lakers gave up too soon on Nets’ PG D’Angelo Russell

Doc Rivers, D'Angelo Russell, Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell showed out on Sunday in a thriller of a game against the L.A. Clippers, putting 32 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds in a heartbreaking 119-116 loss decided by a last-second game-winner by Lou Williams.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers came out impressed, noting he had been fond of Russell from the onset, and now proud of how he’s blossomed into the All-Star he now is in his fourth year in the league.

“He played at Montverde [Academy] in Orlando. He played a lot in the summer with Austin [Rivers], so I’ve been able to see him for a long, long time,” Rivers said, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I was disappointed early on, because I just thought that he was really good. Sometimes, you’ve just got to wait on a kid.

“The same thing with teams. Especially in this young group. You look at each draft and there’s guys that come out at 19 and they don’t take off right away. They get moved around, and the next thing you know, they’re players. It happens more than we know, and it happened to D’Angelo.”

During his first two years with the Lakers, Russell was a mistake-prone, shot-happy point guard that had yet to make the most of his size and dazzling speed. Questions about his ability to be a point guard at this level had also arisen, given that there was only mere flashes of brilliance with his passing early on.

A fresh start, away from the spotlight of the Staples Center turned out to be just what Russell needed, now posting strong averages of 20.4 points, 6.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game as a vital cog of the Nets offense.