Brooklyn Nets Wrap Up Homestand With Three Straight Wins
Nets finding groove on offense with a string of big shooting nights
The Brooklyn Nets closed out their six-game homestand on Wednesday night with a three-game winning streak and an offensive attack that is rounding into form.
In the 117-108 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn had 34 assists against just 14 turnovers and made a season-high 22 3-pointers on 48 attempts for a 45.8 percentage. This came a game after the Nets shot a franchise-record 65.3 percent in Sunday’s win over Detroit, including 52.0 percent from 3-point range.
“We shared the ball,” said James Harden after the win over Atlanta. “We’ve got a lot of trust in each other to take the best shot every single possession. We get frustrated as a unit when we turn the ball over, when we can make the game so simple, get to the basket, kick out to our shooters and if they don’t have the shot make the quick decision. And tonight was a great example of that, four quarters. The more we can do that consistently, we'll have really good shooting nights.”
“They load up a lot in the paint and a lot of times it’s just making simple plays out of it,” said Joe Harris. “Simple pass. When James would get downhill two defenders would collapse, easy kickout to the high quad and then it’s just a read and react scenario from there. We were able to get into a lot of positions like that tonight where guys were getting into the paint, defenders are collapsing and then it’s just all about making the right play from there and when guys are giving up a contested look for an open one you know you obviously shooting is sort of contagious. Once one guy gets going everybody starts to get going a little bit.”
Harris and Harden both began to look more like themselves over the course of the homestand that left Brooklyn with a 5-3 record as it begins a six-game road trip in Detroit on Friday night. Harris led the NBA in 3-point shooting two of the last three seasons, topping 47.0 percent both times, and has the fifth-highest career 3-point percentage in NBA history (43.7). After shooting 34.5 percent from 3-point range in Brooklyn’s first four games, he’s shot 48.3 percent over the last four, including 6-of-8 against the Hawks on Wednesday night. Along the way, Harris passed Jason Kidd for the franchise lead in career 3-pointers, now with 825 as a Net in his sixth season in Brooklyn.
Over Brooklyn’s three straight wins, Harden had 29 points against Indiana, a triple-double against Detroit, and then a double-double against Atlanta with 16 points and 11 assists while making five 3-pointers. He’s had at least seven assists in all eight of Brooklyn’s games and is third in the NBA with 8.9 assists per game.
“Just reading the game, reading the game not trying to force anything,” said Harden on his approach in piling up eight assists by halftime while taking just four shots. “Early, everybody had it going. I tried to take a couple shots if I could, but for the most part I was trying to get in the paint and guys had it going on in the first half. Second half, same thing; I was getting into the paint, especially in that third quarter, being aggressive and then collapsing, kicked out to the shooters, Blake (Griffin) a few times, swing-swing, and then every time it’s a good shot. So just play the right way as a unit, and good things happen for us individually and as a unit.”
“We’re seeing a little bit of everything,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash of Harden’s recent play. “We’re seeing him get to the basket or get by his guy and get in the paint a little more. We’re seeing him make more threes, drawing fouls. He had a blocked shot tonight, a big steal. He’s working on it, he’s getting better and it’s exciting to see him continue to improve.”
Kevin Durant has been the constant for Brooklyn, averaging 28.3 points — second in the league — with career-high efficiency. As a group, the Nets are finding their rhythm around him, with six players scoring in double-figures against Atlanta, including Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge combining for 8-of-17 shooting and 24 points off the bench.
After averaging 100.6 points per 100 possessions over their first five games, the Nets have averaged 112.3 while winning three straight.
“I just think we needed some experience, just seeing what lineups work, what player, what sets work with each lineup,” said Durant. “I think that’s really what it is. You need to play games to understand that. We knew it was going to be a process for us. I am glad we were able to figure some stuff out the last few games and get back on the right page. We know it is going to be even tougher on the road but we just got to keep grinding. I keep saying the same thing: the regular season is all about preparing you for the playoffs so we got to keep putting in the time and the hours.”
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