Brooklyn Nets Brought a Team Vibe to All-Star Weekend
Harris took home 3-Point trophy, but togetherness was the theme
There were superstars and photo shoots, media circuits and community events, trophies and national television shouts-outs; but for the Brooklyn Nets players at NBA All-Star Weekend, the best part of it all was ... the guys they already see every day?
The Nets were five strong in Charlotte, with Joe Harris in the 3-Point Contest, Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs in the Rising Stars game, and D'Angelo Russell making his All-Star Game debut. Spencer Dinwiddie didn't get the opportunity to defend his Skills Competition title because of thumb surgery, but he made the trip and joined the TNT broadcast crew during the event.
"It was fun just being down there with the number of people that we had in Charlotte," said Harris. "Spencer would have been the fifth guy had he been in the Skills Competition, then we had the rest of the staff, the Nets PR team, a lot of other familiar faces. So it was a fun weekend."
"D'Angelo, I said, 'Well, who impressed you?' I thought he was going to say LeBron," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "He goes, 'It was just cool, hanging around, being around our guys, being there with my teammates.' I think that was neat. I thought he was going to mention a guy from another team. I thought that was cool."
Atkinson didn't make the trip, but he did his best not to miss anything either. With the Nets involved in all three nights of action, he tuned in in a way he normally doesn't, beginning with Allen and Kurucs on Friday night.
"Every time those guys touch the ball, you're like, man, there goes another Net," said Atkinson. "It was great. And then D'Lo too, the whole thing. We watched all of it intently, where most of the time during the All-Star Game, check in, check out, get a snack. It was like, man, I've got to watch all this."
In Saturday night's 3-Point Contest, Harris stole the show in outshooting a star-studded field to take home the trophy.
Harris may have been unheralded going into an event that featured past champions, current All-Stars and hometown favorites — Steph Curry managed to check off all three of those boxes — but he shouldn't have been a surprise. He went to Charlotte as the NBA's No. 2 3-point shooter this season at 47.1 percent.
That's a continuation of a big finish from last season, when Harris elevated his shooting after New Year's. Since Jan. 1, 2018, Harris is shooting 46.9 percent from 3-point range over 98 games, more than a full season.
For good measure, he'd even made 11 of his last 13 in game action against Toronto and Cleveland before departing for Charlotte.
"I was hot going in, but I don't think that shooting off the rack, I don't think that there's really any sort of correlation to be honest," said Harris. "I was even talking to Danny Green about it. Me and him are both jump shooters, so we changed up a little bit, shooting more of a set shot just so you could get through it quick enough, because if you jump on every single one, you're just going to get to the last rack and be a little bit crunched for time. I guess in some regards you do have to change it up a little bit. But you're not shooting the same way that you do in a game. I'm coming off screens most of the time, shooting some spot-up shots, but I'm not just standing still and reaching to my right side to shoot."
Harris squeezed in one practice session off the rack with assistant coach Jordan Ott a week earlier in Brooklyn, then got in another at UNC-Charlotte, where his former Virginia assistant coach Ron Sanchez is the head coach. Harris even promised the 49ers he'd send them the trophy if he won, and followed up, though he figures the Nets are going to want to see it back in Brooklyn eventually.
To take home the title, Harris swept the money ball rack that he left for last in each round, even making his last eight shots in the first round to get the crowd going. That put him in the finals with Curry and Sacramento's Buddy Hield.
After Harris shot his 26 in the final round, Curry went last and opened up by making his first nine. But he got to the final money ball rack needing to make all five to tie Harris, and missed on No. 3.
"To be honest, I was just feeling like even that I had made it to the championship round, I was feeling good that I was at that point to be honest, and whatever happened, happened," said Harris. "If he had made every single shot I wouldn't have been surprised. He ended up cooling off a little bit, but he started off hot and I was kind of thinking that he wasn't going to miss."
Harris was pretty even-keeled before, during and after the event. Back home in Brooklyn, somebody else was a little more excited.
"I was on the couch with my wife and two kids," said Atkinson. "We jumped up and down. I get emotional about these things, man. I didn't cry, but I was overly, you get that tingly feeling. I just love how he walked off. He wasn't (Larry) Bird, he didn't put the finger up, he just kind of, I don't know if he was in a state of shock, but awesome, it was awesome."
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