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. What, maybe five, 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.”
Claxton went scoreless with three fouls in 3:15 of playing time. He said the toughest part of his ailment was losing 15 to 20 pounds.
“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.
But if he had gotten to face the GM that traded him away? 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.”
The trade aspect of that Durant deal came together quickly, and while Russell is believed to have been informed during the process, it all happened like a whirlwind.
“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 left early with a left quad contusion. He had three points in 18:19.
Joe Harris (ankle) and Kyrie Irving were out for the Nets, while Karl-Anthony Towns (back) was out for Minnesota.
The Nets improved to 16-6, and have won six 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.”