For the second game in a row, Joe Harris delivered big fourth-quarter plays for the Brooklyn Nets, both times contributing in ways beyond the 3-point shooting that he’s primarily known for.
This time, Harris had his first career double-double with a career-high 12 rebounds to go with his 10 points in the Nets’ 87-85 loss to the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on Saturday night. Harris was instrumental in getting the Nets to the point where they had a shot to win or tie on their final possession.
Harris banked in a runner over Kyrie Irving with just under four minutes to play to tie the game at 79. With 36 seconds to go, Harris grabbed the offensive rebound on a Spencer Dinwiddie drive and put it back to bring Brooklyn within 87-85.
That was one of three rebounds Harris had in the final minute. He pulled down the defensive board on an Irving miss when the Nets got a stop to give themselves a final possession. Then he grabbed another offensive board to keep that possession alive in the last 10 seconds.
“It’s one of those things where guard rebounding is always a bonus,” said Harris. “But tonight in particular, they played small and we went small. That’s one of those things where everybody’s got to come back to the glass and I just happened to have a lot of those balls knocked my way.”
Harris was critical in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s win over the Timberwolves that the Nets eventually pulled out on two big Dinwiddie shots in the final minute.
With the Nets in a possession-for-possession battle with Minnesota for most of the night and all of the fourth quarter, Harris scored seven fourth-quarter points. He converted a layup off a sweet give-and-go with Quincy Acy that knotted the game at 79. Just before the six-minute mark, Harris crashed the boards hard to put back a DeMarre Carroll miss, then followed with a 3-pointer that put Brooklyn up 87-85.
It’s been part of a strong week for Harris that has coincided with solid outings by the Nets. He poured in a career-high 21 points in Brooklyn’s rout of Miami a week ago and has averaged 13.2 points in the five games since. In the five games the Nets are 3-2 with two losses to the conference-leading Celtics by a total of five points, plus wins over Orlando and Minnesota.
“He’s improved so much,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “I just think in every facet of the game. I thought he made a big drive against Kyrie, drove it left and got him off him and finished. And he had 12 rebounds. He’s just an elite competitor. He’s gaining confidence, getting better by the day. We’re just so pleased with his progress. He’s been a big help. And he’s got nice size, right? He’s 6-6, 6-6½. He can mix it up in a game like this, so great to see Joe playing well.”