The Brooklyn Nets are wrapping up a three-game home stretch with Friday's game against the New York Knicks. Wednesday's 114-110 win over the Orlando Magic was Brooklyn's seventh straight win at Barclays Center and 11th in the last 12 games.
During this string of 18 wins in 23 games, the Nets have been taking care of business at home. The fans have been responding, and the energy flows back to the court.
"I've felt the vibe, the positive," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "Plus, when you're a little more confident, I see it with our players too, there's a little more connection with our fans because we're doing well. you're a little more confident. I'm kind of a extroverted person, so I have interactions with the fans. We're here to win, but it's also, we're here to entertain and make sure the fans have a great time too."
"We feel it. The energy has been almost contagious," said Joe Harris. "You really feel it night in and night out now, and it’s not to say that it was bad in years past, but it is different. You have a different energy in the building, and even last night when those ‘Brooklyn’ chants got going, that’s something I haven’t really felt or experienced since I’ve been here. And you definitely feel a distinct advantage at home."
HARRIS TAKES A HIT
There were just under 90 seconds to go in Wednesday's game against Orlando, with the Nets holding on to a 109-106 lead in what would become a 114-110 victory.
Orlando's Evan Fournier pushed the ball up the floor after beating Brooklyn's DeMarre Carroll to the loose ball after Carroll tipped away a pass. The Nets had to scramble with Carroll behind the play. Jarrett Allen picked up Fournier at the top of the key, and he swung the ball to Nikola Vucevic on the left wing.
With three Nets defenders on the opposite side of the floor and D'Angelo Russell having to guard against a corner three, Vucevic had a lane to the rim and took it ... until Joe Harris stepped into the lane from the opposite block and got run over by Orlando's 7-foot, 260-pound center to draw the offensive foul as Allen crashed down and swatted the shot away.
"Joe Harris, wow. It’s a winning play right there," said D'Angelo Russell. "He doesn’t make that play they get a layup or a foul and it changes the game but that’s the icing on the cake right there. That’s a winning play, big time play."
“We call it the MIG actually," said Harris. "It’s the most important guy, so it’s the opposite wing defender, and I was just on the opposite block. That’s my rotation, just to step over, and I took a block away from Jay, so he would have been there if I wouldn’t have come over anyway. But that’s my job, to come over and either get a verticality or try to take a charge, get my feet outside the circle.”
Spencer Dinwiddie pointed to the play as symbolic of the small things that have made a difference in the way the Nets have turned their season around over the last month.
"Joe has always been big for us even last year, but if he’s a step late and doesn’t get that charge tries to go vertical and maybe fouls him, maybe we lose that game," said Dinwiddie. "Maybe he gets and and-one. Maybe we’re down one and we miss the last shot. But Joe takes the charge, and essentially, the game is over. It’s just all the little stuff that sometimes you see and sometimes you don’t, but those plays happen throughout the game. It’s not even the last one. It’s maybe a charge that was taken in the second quarter that stymied a run."
BATTLE OF THE BOROUGHS
Friday night's game at Barclays Center will be the fourth and final one of the season between the Nets and Knicks, in addition to the two preseason games. The Nets won two of the first three regular season games.
"I think it's one of those rivalries where it doesn't matter the record," said Kenny Atkinson, a Long Island native and former Knicks assistant coach. "The record's out the window. It's two New York teams going at it. I always say my wish is that both of us get really good and this game becomes more and more important as we go down the line. I'm excited for it. I know our fans are."
ABOUT THE KNICKS
The Knicks are 10-36 and in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. They are 3-25 dating back to Nov. 27. The Knicks are 29th in the NBA in defensive rating (113.4) and 23rd in offensive rating (105.5). They shoot the lowest field goal percentage in the league (43.2) and allow the third-highest (47.8). Tim Hardaway Jr. leads the Knicks with 19.6 points per game.