Nets’ Nic Claxton returns from hamstring injury

Nic Claxton made his return to the court Tuesday night after missing seven straight games.

The Nets’ young center was forced from the Jan. 10 game at Portland early with a tight left hamstring, and hadn’t played since. Claxton had been listed as questionable, but was upgraded to available before tipoff against the Lakers.

“I think Nic’s gonna go,” coach Steve Nash said. “I’ll throw that out there, take the brunt of everybody back there.”

Claxton had averaged 12.5 points on 69.3 percent shooting in his last 11 appearances, with 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and switchable defense.

Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe had emerged during Claxton’s absence, forcing his way into the starting lineup. The first-round pick had averaged 11.0 points on 60.6 percent shooting with 7.6 boards (3.5 offensive) in the last eight games coming into Tuesday.

Nic Claxton
Robert Sabo

Nash played Sharpe, LaMarcus Aldridge and (sparingly) Blake Griffin. But he has admitted it’s hard to play even three centers — four will be impossible.

“Just stay ready, man,” Sharpe said. “If Nic comes back, if I do get cut out or not, I’m still going to be on the sideline, helping, cheering, clapping just being ready when my name gets called.”

DeAndre’ Bembry had a similar sentiment after having his minutes cut for rookie Kessler Edwards.

The second-round pick has surpassed all reasonable expectations, averaging 10.0 points on 49.1 percent shooting — 43.3 percent from deep — in 32.2 minutes over his past seven games entering Tuesday. Many of those minutes came at the expense of Bembry.

“Yeah, his confidence is going to just keep growing. He’s really good. Like I say, all these [rookies] are really good, but Kessler, he’s shooting the hell out of the ball to be honest with you, and that’s why he’s playing with those guys on the first unit, spacing the floor.

“He’s playing simple basketball, and like I say, there’s plenty of minutes to go around. But I’m never the person to hate on someone, especially a younger guy. He’s playing basketball right now. … So, I’m happy for the kid.”

Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis returned to the court Tuesday against the Nets. Initially listed as probable, the big man hadn’t played since Dec. 17 at Minnesota, missing 17 straight games.

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