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Atlantic Notes: Hollis-Jefferson, Smith, Rambis

Interim Nets coach Tony Brown is excited about the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who scored five points, including two on a thunderous dunk, in 15 minutes Tuesday, the first game for last year’s 23rd pick since he broke his right ankle in December, The Record’s Andy Vasquez notes. Brown pointed to Hollis-Jefferson and three-year signee Sean Kilpatrick for their spirit, an element that’s lacking on a woeful 19-51 Nets team, and Hollis-Jefferson is especially important to the franchise’s future, given its lack of other draft assets to build around Brook Lopez“He’s just such a spark plug,” Lopez said. “He brings a lot to the team and definitely takes us up another few notches. We’ve come to expect that from him and we’ve been missing it throughout the season.”

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers coach Brett Brown sees Ish Smith as a strong fit for the team and believes he’s witnessed growth in his game, and the soon-to-be free agent is confident he’s better than he was when he embarked on what’s been a journeyman NBA career thus far, as Smith tells Howard Megdal for USA Today“Opportunity is everything, as you know,” Smith said. “And I think bouncing around helped me develop my ability to score the basketball. Playing behind Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry, some of the best point guards in the league now, absolutely helped me develop my offensive game. Being a passer, that’s always been my niche. But I’ve developed a whole lot since college.”
  • Smith’s enduring confidence can hurt him when he takes shots he shouldn’t, but it’s a refreshing lift for a Sixers locker room that could use it, and particularly for friend Nerlens Noel, who’s been a part of the losing from the start of the GM Sam Hinkie era, observes Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine.
  • The struggles that Kevin Love has endured in Cleveland vindicate Kurt Rambis to a degree for their failure to connect when they were together with the Timberwolves, but their history is nonetheless disconcerting now that Kristaps Porzingis is another young big man struggling under Rambis’ coaching, posits Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The slump the Knicks rookie is in doesn’t speak well for Rambis as the Knicks decide on a long-term head coach, Bondy contends.

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