The Brooklyn Nets kept their winning streak alive by a thread on Wednesday, escaping Chicago on the second night of a dreaded home/road back-to-back with a 96-93 win that stretched the streak to seven straight heading into Friday night's game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center.
In the middle of a messy end to a messy game was Joe Harris. When Spencer Dinwiddie tipped the ball away from Chicago's Justin Holiday with under 10 seconds left and the Nets hanging on to a one-point lead, it was Harris that hit the deck to wrap his arms around the ball before a timeout gave the Nets possession with 2.3 seconds to go.
Harris is consistent in referencing "50-50" balls after games, and he got this one, helping to lock up a win.
Forty seconds earlier, Harris had given the Nets the lead -- the last of 23 lead changes in the game -- when he drove the rim from the left side and banked in a runner. It's the type of play Harris has been making consistently for a year now, attacking the basket on closeouts rather than forcing a contested 3-pointer.
"I joked with Joe and said, 'you're not a 3-point shooter anymore, you're a driver,' " said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson after Tuesday's win over the Lakers. "They're going to start playing you like a driver because every time you catch it you want to get downhill and get to the rim. He's really becoming a complete player. I thought he made a couple of downhill drives off of screens and one of them he punished (Lonzo) Ball at the rim and finished another one. But the guys find him too. The ball finds guys with energy and we did a good job of finding him."
Against the Lakers on Tuesday, Harris scored 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, in 38 minutes.
Over the last six games, Harris is shooting 55.2 percent from 3-point range and 53.3 percent overall, averaging 15.0 points and 3.8 assists.
For the season, Harris is averaging 13.3 points and shooting a team-leading 46.7 from 3-point range -- seventh in the NBA -- with 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, all career highs.
"Joe Harris now is the modern JJ Redick now basically," said Jared Dudley after the Lakers game. "He's taking over, coming off a lot of ball screens, can put it down. The thing about him compared to JJ, I think we all can say his layup package, going into the lane, finishing, is one of the better on our team.
"Aside from Spencer (Diwiddie) I would put him No. 2 in finishing, connecting at the paint. I think that Joe Harris has shown he's a starter in this league. You look at him, white guy, 6-4, 6-5 out there, doesn't look like a ball player and next thing you know he's got 16, 18 points and showing you he's going at you. We look for him. I know D'Angelo (Russell) does when it comes to pindowns or assists. Myself, I look for him. I think the sky's the limit. I think that people don't really take him seriously. After he has about 16, hit three or four threes, they do."
D'ANGELO AND DINWIDDIE: DYNAMIC
Spencer Dinwiddie led Brooklyn with 27 points against the Bulls, one night after D'Angelo Russell had 22 points and 13 assists against the Lakers.
During Brooklyn's seven-game winning streak, the pair has combined to average 41.9 points and 13.5 assists per game. Dinwiddie is averaging 24.0 points on 52.5 percent shooting, including 41.7 percent from 3-point range. Russell is averaging 17.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting, including 39.0 from 3-point range, plus 7.9 assists per game.
Dinwiddie scored a career high 39 points against Philadelphia on Dec. 12 and Russell's 13 assists against the Lakers matched a career high.
ABOUT THE PACERS
Until Tuesday night, the Pacers were the only team in the NBA with a longer active winning streak than the Nets. They won seven straight before dropping a back-to-back against the Cavaliers and Raptors on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both games went to the buzzer, with Cleveland's Larry Nance Jr. tipping in the game-winning on Tuesday and Indiana's Bojan Bogdanovic missing a potential game-tying three against Toronto on Wednesday. Still, the 7-2 stretch has elevated Indiana to fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 20-12 record.
Indiana is fifth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (37.1) but just 29th in attempts (24.9). The Pacers have the No. 2 defensive efficiency in the NBA, with a 102.2 rating, and the No. 6 net rating (5.0). Oladipo averages 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He returned to the lineup on Dec. 12 after missing 11 games. The Indiana frontcourt features former Nets Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young.