Nic Claxton finally returns from illness in Nets’ win

After missing almost a month-and-a-half, the Nets’ Nic Claxton finally made his return Friday night in the win over Minnesota. 

“It’s been a long few weeks. Is it possible to say five or six weeks. So definitely excited,” Claxton said beforehand. 

The young center hadn’t played since Oct. 25, missing 17 straight games with a non-COVID-19 illness. 

“We believe in Nic and we’re happy that he’s back. It’s just a matter of him getting going again,” coach Steve Nash said. 

“He’s an athletic, active big that can guard multiple positions, protect the rim, roll on offense and just be disruptive with his energy, length and athleticism. That’s a unique profile for our team. If we can get him back to where he’s confident and comfortable physically, mentally and emotionally and adapting to our play, there’s no reason he can’t regain that.” 

Nic Claxton (33), logged 3:15 playing time.
Corey Sipkin

Claxton was scoreless, with only three fouls after 3:15 minutes of play. Claxton said that losing between 15 and 20 pounds was the hardest part of his illness. 

“The toughest part was just honestly just losing weight, and looking at yourself in the mirror and I was just so small,” Claxton said. “But I’m back now. I’m back in shape and ready to get back in game shape.” 

Former Net D’Angelo Russell had 21 points and 11 assists in his return to Barclays Center. He was dealt away by general manager Sean Marks in the sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, and said he didn’t feel any extra motivation facing the Nets with all of his former teammates and coaches gone. 

He would have loved to meet the GM who traded him. That he’d relish. 

“Maybe if Sean Marks was in a jersey, then there’d be something different,” Russell told The Post. “But he’s not.” 

It was a quick deal and although Russell may have been informed, the trade part of Durant’s contract went smoothly. 

“It’s part of the league. Obviously I was traded before that, so I’m sure I could be traded again,” Russell told The Post. “I try not to get too comfortable. You know, I know any day you can wake up and get that call, so my bags are packed.” 

Cam Thomas was suffering from a left quad contusion and he left the game early. Three points were scored by him in 18:19. 

Joe Harris (ankle), Kyrie Insight (back), were all out to support the Nets. Karl-Anthony Towns was also out for Minnesota. 

They improved their record to 16-6 and won six out of seven. They’re 1 ½ games ahead of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference, and they will host Chicago on Saturday. 

“I know Chicago is a contender, but every game is important. We want to go out here and set a tone every night,” Durant said. “[Saturday] is going to be an intense game, and we’ve got to match that at the start.”

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