With Kyrie Irving out with a knee sprain, the Nets needed someone to step up as they fight to remain seventh in the Eastern Conference. On Monday, Caris LeVert assumed that role.
Making his first appearance in the starting lineup since Nov. 10, LeVert went off for a game-high 29 points on 10-for-20 shooting, the most he's scored all season and a tie for the most he's had in his career.
"We needed it," head coach Kenny Atkinson said. "He did it on both ends. His defense was excellent and, of course, offensively. He really, really carried us."
Matched up mainly against Devin Booker on defense, the 25-year-old held the Suns' primary scorer to 11 points on just 3-for-15 shooting to go along with his fantastic performance on the offensive end.
LeVert has been plagued with injuries throughout his four-year NBA career (and his collegiate career, as well), including suffering a gruesome leg injury last season. After starting the first nine games of this season, he had sugery to repair ligament damage on his thumb and missed the next 25 contests.
He returned to the lineup in early January but did so off the bench. With Irving out for at least another week and a breakout performance on Monday, LeVert figures to get a good look in an increased role in the Nets' rotation.
"Everything stays consistent with him," Joe Harris said. "If he's not making shots, he still does all the intangible stuff. Hustle plays, activity, he stays locked in with the game plan. And then tonight he just made shots, he finshed around the rim, finished at the line. So it's great to see that. We need him to play like that if we want to win here without Kyrie. "
The Nets will look for their second consecutive win when they play host to the Warriors on Wednesday.