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Bucks @ Nets: Thursday, February 28th

By Matt McQueeny, NJNets.com

Harris Shines in Debut
Updated 10:00PM 2/29/08

Harris finished with 21 points in 21 minutes. It was a great opening night for the new Nets point guard.

Devin's Day | Sixth Man Devin Harris Debuts, Nets Win 120-106 | Notes: Debut De Devin

"Devin's a Go," Debuts Tonight
Updated 7:00PM 2/28/08

Devin Harris - acquired last week in the Jason Kidd trade - will make his Nets debut tonight at IZOD Center.

Well bring him off the bench," said Coach Lawrence Frank. "No restrictions in regards to his minutes. He hasnt played in a month so well just kind of see. It will probably be in short bursts and then well kind of read it from there.

Shoot Around Audio
Updated 11:55AM 2/28/08

Point Guard Devin Harris | Head Coach Lawrence Frank

Shoot Around: Harris Feels Good About Tonight
Updated 11:55AM 2/28/08

Devin Harris at shoot around this morning: Well go through shoot around and see how it feels, but I feel good about tonight so well see what happens.

He is still being listed as a game time decision (left ankle sprain) but his quote sure sounds like he will make his debut tonight.

I havent talked to him much yet but hes moving around, said Coach Lawrence Frank.

He came early with the early group doing some rehearsal offense, well go through shoot around, see how he feels after that, and then well be able to make a decision.

When he does debut, he will come off the bench, at least for his first game back.

Remember: He has been out for a month.

Were really looking to all the different things Devin can bring to the team, said Frank. Its going to take some time because not only is he brand-new to the situation, (but) hes been out for a month. When you combine those factors, its the middle of the year, one practice; you keep your expectations realistic and kind of build from there.

You just know hes going to get better each and every game. You cant simulate being out for a month, and that includes the all-star break. Lets say it was Vince Carter who was gone for a month, you temper your expectations because the guys out a month.

As for how long he can expect to play, Thats all Mr. Franks decision, said Harris. Im at his disposal.

Richard Jefferson talks to the media at shoot around. Josh Boone, beside him with a devilish grin, jokingly mimics Jefferson.

The Milwaukee Bucks, New Jerseys competition tonight, have won three of four games coming out of the all-star break. Those three wins all at home came against the Pistons, Nuggets, and Cavaliers. They are still 6-24 on the road, but you have to take notice of that victory line.

Theyre playing very well, said Frank. Milwaukee is a very, very streaky team. When you look at their season, its been one of where theyve put together a couple of good games and then they struggle a little bit. They have a different starting lineup than from when we played them last. Obviously (Michael) Redd didnt play us the last time; (Desmond) Mason wasnt even available to them. So both those guys are starting as well as (Charlie) Villanueva instead of Yi (Jianlian). So theyre formidable. Redd has been very, very aggressive early in games, Mo Williams had an unbelievable surge in that fourth quarter; he finished with 37 against Cleveland. But theyre very capable. (Andrew) Boguts virtually a double-double, so like many teams in our conference outside of Boston, Detroit, and possibly Orlando, teams are very, very streaky and theyre one of them.

Practice Audio
Updated 5:30PM 2/27/08

Point Guard Devin Harris | Head Coach Lawrence Frank

Leap of Faith
Updated 5:00PM 2/27/08

Devin Harris took part in his first official practice as a Net today. He has been out since January 27th with a sprained left ankle.

It felt good, reported the point guard, who turned 25 years old today and was serenaded for the occasion by rookie Sean Williams.

I went through the whole practice, full contact. It was a good day.

There is a chance he might get into his first game action on Thursday night at IZOD Center against his hometown Milwaukee Bucks.

Hopefully it responds well tomorrow but were going to keep it as a game time decision. But it feels good so hopefully everything goes well and hopefully we can do something tomorrow.

Devin went through the whole practice, did well, he started to feel better when he got his second wind, said Head Coach Lawrence Frank. But he looked very good out there. Well talk to him after and see how he feels, make sure to see tomorrow, and well know tomorrow whether he is going to play.

Harris said it has been difficult to not be out there playing with his new team but that it is important to come back only when he was at full-health. In the week he has been here, he feels like he has been able to pick up a lot I have the offense basically down, he said. Game conditioning is still a hurdle he needs to cross, but that only comes from getting into the real games.

With Harris jumping into the Nets season mid-stream, both he and Coach Frank used the term leap of faith to describe their partnership moving forward.

The first day we kind of talked about it when I got here, said Harris.

Obviously we dont have a lot of time to get this trust factor going. So we kind of have to take a leap of faith with both us. Hes going to have to trust me a little bit; Im going to have to trust him. And hopefully with time that will grow.

Both of us are going to have to take a leap of faith, echoed the Coach. Weve done it now obviously with Jason and hes earned his stripes and weve even done it with Marcus. Its important for the point guard and the head coach to have a special relationship and especially when you acquire someone in the middle of the year like Devin where you have no past history. Both sides have to be willing to take that leap of faith that theres some trust were going to give each other without earning it. And then the only way that trust erodes is based on performance or preparation. So well each take a leap of faith and understand that its going to be a work in progress

Hes seen a share of what weve done. You show him a lot and you do a little - so to speak - in the game and then you build it up until his comfort level is high but we really want him to take ownership with this, we want him to feel comfortable with it, we want him to be assertive in terms of having the freedom to make some play calls.

With Harris being from Milwaukee and the Nets hosting the Bucks on Thursday night, he was asked if he grew up a Bucks fan. He answered yes.

What were his recollections?

I remember the good years, he answered. Obviously, weve struggled for a while. But we had Ray Allen, Big Dog (Glenn Robinson), we made it to the Conference Finals, lost against the 76ersI was going to all the playoff games. Theyre still my home team. Were playing against them tomorrow; look forward to it.

(Photo: former Bucks Ray Allen (left) and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson)

Nets Spreading Out the Offense?
Updated 10:10PM 2/27/08

Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy had this to say after last night's game:

"Coming into tonight, the 3-point game since the Kidd trade, they were 26-of-54 from threes. We said to our guys that the Nets are shooting a high percentage. They get you spread out and now they have shooters everywhere. Theyre playing smaller most of the time. Marcus Williams can shoot the ball better than Jason Kidd could from threes. Their game offensively is working better for them right now. They were tough to guard and we struggled all night long. We hung in and finished the game well, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. We got our stops late when we had to have them."

The assessment at least initially seems to be true. A four-game sample size is way too small to put up against the 53 games of evidence before it, but since the trade the Nets have been shooting the three at a bigger and better clip. Over the last four games they are shooting 47.5 percent from beyond the arc. They have made an average of 9.5 a game and taken an average of 20.0. In the 53 games prior, they were shooting 33.2 percent from deep, took an average of 16.8 a game, and made an average of 5.6.

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