Nets’ Caris LeVert manages to play through hand injury

Nets’ Caris LeVert manages to play through hand injury

MIAMI — For the Nets, it’s all hands on deck — even injured hands.

Caris LeVert gutted his way through a contusion, saying if he could grip the ball, he could suit up.

LeVert not only played Saturday in Miami despite having been listed as questionable with a right hand contusion, he started and logged a team-high 35:14.

“Yeah I was going to play regardless unless I couldn’t hold a basketball,” LeVert said. “It’s my shooting hand, so it’s definitely not 100 percent. But if I’m out there then I’m OK. … If I’m out there, then I’m out there.”

LeVert wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what percentage he was. But after suffering the injury Friday in Atlanta, he tested out the hand before the Heat game and gutted through it wearing a black wrap.

Asked if he was afraid there was a fracture, LeVert replied, “I would assume not, we haven’t had it X-rayed or anything like that.”

He added there were no plans to have X-rays during Sunday’s off day.

Caris LeVert reacts dejectedly after the Nets' 116-113 loss to the Heat.
Caris LeVert reacts dejectedly after the Nets’ 116-113 loss to the Heat.AP

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent. I definitely think there is some [pain],” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “But you know, he’ll tell you nothing is wrong. So, listen to him, not me.”

LeVert had 15 points, four assists and three rebounds in the 116-113 loss to the Heat. He shot 6 of 17, just 1-of-6 from deep and had a game-high four turnovers. But with Kyrie Irving out for the season and the Nets having dropped four in a row, they can’t afford to lose him.

“Showed a ton of fight. Obviously he’s our third star. Major piece of the team,” Spencer Dinwiddie said of LeVert. “Every time he’s out there he gives us a boost, even if he’s a little hampered.”

LeVert returned to the starting lineup on Feb. 3 against Phoenix, and has averaged 22.5 points, five assists and 4.1 steals in those 11 games. But keeping him healthy is paramount.

He missed almost three months last season with a dislocated foot, and 24 straight games this season with right thumb surgery.

“Yep, Caris has battled through a lot his entire career. This is nothing different for him,” Joe Harris said. “He’s one of our toughest players, and everybody knows that.

“He comes out and plays hurt. It’s one of those things where his resilience and toughness just sort of rubs off on everybody else. When you know that he’s battling through something, it’s definitely one of those things where it inspires the rest of the team.”

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