DeMarre Carroll playing like his old self again

Jan 05, 2019 | by Brian Lewis, NY Post

CHICAGO — DeMarre Carroll made his official return from ankle surgery Nov. 9, when the Nets played at Denver, but he really is just coming back almost two months later.

“Finally,” Carroll said Saturday, as the Nets prepared to face the Bulls on Sunday afternoon. “Finally [last month]. I said, ‘I’ve just got to be consistent. My body has to catch up with my game.’ It finally did. I’m moving and running better, everything. It took time. You always want everything as soon as you come back. You want to be right. But you’ve got to understand it’s a process. If you put in the work you’ll reap the benefit.”

Carroll is starting to reap the benefits of that hard rehab work. He’s averaging 16.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in his past five games, shooting 53.1 percent overall and 50 percent from 3-point range.

With Nets starters Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (adductor), Allen Crabbe (knee) and Caris LeVert (foot) all out, Carroll’s resurgence is imperative.

“He’s huge for us. It is great timing for him to be trending into the DeMarre of last year,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think after his injury and the surgery, this is probably the timeline that is right for his age and how long it takes to get back. But credit to him. He put in extra work with our performance team and getting back. He is starting to reap the benefits.”

Carroll, 32, had right ankle surgery on Oct. 16, and missed the first 11 games of the season. The preseason plan had been to start him as a small-ball four in place of the injured Hollis-Jefferson. Carroll, however, not only lost a starting spot but any kind of rhythm. Until lately.

In the past three games, Carroll is averaging 19.0 points and 5.3 boards, shooting 54.5 percent overall and a red-hot 12-of-20 from deep. And his acrobatic three-point play Thursday — he swept across the lane, hanging in the air for contact and tossed up a shot put-style attempt that somehow went down — was a play he never could have made a month ago.

“Probably not. I probably wouldn’t even have planted on that ankle,” Carroll said. “It’s good man, it feels good to be healthy. If I’m healthy I can play like DeMarre Carroll, but when I’m not, I get out there and I don’t look the same.“I’m just happy I’m healthy and we’ve got a performance staff. I harp on them all the time and how good they are and the things they do for me, even when I don’t want to lift and don’t want to do certain things they make me do it. So my hats off to them.”

With Hollis-Jefferson out for weeks, Jared Dudley has moved back into the lineup. But expect Carroll to get some minutes at stretch four, even if he doesn’t start.

“I think we played him at the four tonight even though they were big,” Atkinson said. “We can’t play him there 40 minutes, but I think that’s part of his package, being the small-ball four. He did it for us last year. It’s not his ideal position, but obviously he gets more shots at the four because teams suck in off him. So he gets a bunch of open shots when he was at the four.”

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