The week-long All-Star break did nothing to disrupt Landry Shamet’s shooting rhythm.
In Brooklyn’s first two games back, Shamet has made 9-of-12 3-pointers, including all three of his attempts on the occasion of his 24th birthday in Saturday’s 100-95 win over Detroit.
“The birthday boy. He was great,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after the game. “He’s on a hot streak here and it’s awesome to see. He made some really big shots for us. We wouldn’t have won the Boston game without him and we wouldn’t have won tonight without him, so pivotal performances from Landry and we definitely needed those big baskets he made for us tonight.”
In Thursday’s 121-109 win over Boston, Shamet made a season-high six 3-pointers on nine attempts while scoring 18 points. Against Detroit, he made 5-of-6 shots overall. Shamet scored 11 points in the third quarter and delivered the Brooklyn response after Detroit had cut the Nets’ lead to a point with a 14-3 run.
Shamet popped in a jumper, then followed with consecutive 3-pointers to give him eight straight points and push the Brooklyn lead back up to 69-60.
“I knew that we were a little stagnant,” said Shamet. “I just wanted to try to be aggressive. Open some things up maybe for some other guys. Come off the pace and I got some good screens, (Kyrie Irving) put the ball right in my bread basket and I just shot them. So got a few looks and just try to remain aggressive and that's really what it comes down to.”
Over the last 19 games — half the season for the 26-13 Nets — Shamet is shooting 43.2 percent from 3-point range on 6.2 attempts per game.
“I've been doing the same thing; just working on my game, getting shots up getting extra work in, mentally keep myself in the right place,” said Shamet. “My teammates trust me and they want me to shoot, and that goes a long way knowing that they’ve got my back all the time. Not a ton of film. I'm not really watching. I've done this my whole life. And it's just a matter of staying consistent, regardless of ups or downs. So, yeah, shots are going in and I'm trying to find other ways to affect the game, too.”
NEXT, THE KNICKS
The last game the Nets played before acquiring James Harden was a 116-109 win at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 13. They had beaten the Denver Nuggets at home the night before, and since Jan. 12 Brooklyn has a 21-7 record.
With the Nets having won 12 of their last 13 games, the Knicks are coming to Brooklyn on Monday night. One of the other things that has changed since that first meeting is that limited numbers of fans are being allowed to attend games.
“I see even more excitement when we finally opened up and they were able to come and see some actual live basketball,” said Harden. “So, obviously we're playing well, the Knicks are playing well. So that gives them obviously more of a reason to come but just the excitement and fans wanting to get into the arena to see some basketball; see their favorite player play is another reason. So, I heard the crowd tonight. It was exciting. I am anxious and can't wait until we are able to let more fans in and you know, I can't wait for that day.”
The Nets have opened up the second half of the season with two grind-it-out wins, first over Boston and then Detroit. After the 121-109 win over the Celtics powered largely by Kyrie Irving’s 40-point, 15-of-23-shooting night, it was acknowledged across the board that a little rust was showing in a 14-turnover night. But the Nets still shot 45.2 percent from 3-point range against the Celtics.
Against the Pistons, the Nets hit just 6-of-27 3-pointers (22.2 percent), while also limiting Detroit to 8-of-32 shooting from 3-point range. But the Nets shot 61.1 percent (33-of-54) on 2-point attempts, with DeAndre Jordan making 7-of-8 shots and scoring 14 points.
“We know that down the line, there's going to be a playoff game or a crucial game where the other the other team we're playing is taking away a couple of our options, or James, Ky or Kevin aren't having their best night,” said Landry Shamet. “And we’ve got to know that that's probably gonna happen; it’s basketball. So a night like tonight where – and all those guys are capable of putting up 30 plus any given night, but there's going to be evenings where they don't. And that's when it's even more important that we're doing all the little things. Other guys have got to be able to contribute. We all got to continue to do our jobs and find ways to win those games, because that's what — from my experience in playoffs and whatnot — there's going to be nights like that, and you got to find ways to win those games. So this is good, good experience for us early. We've had a couple of them now, so it's good that we've handled them the way we have so far.”
Down the stretch, after the Pistons had come back from 12 points down at the start of the fourth quarter, the Nets closed the game with a 10-4 run. James Harden got all 10 points either in the paint or from the line, and the Nets held the Pistons to a single field goal over the final 2:58, that coming with 15.8 seconds remaining.
“We’re more than capable of winning basketball games different ways, and obviously, we’ve been showing it,” said Harden. “We can be a team that’s making shots and everything is going smooth, or we can be a team that we’ve got to get down and do the dirty work, dive on the floor, just small things, deflections. Tonight was one of those games. We barely cracked 100, but we held them to 95. That’s great defense. Our shot wasn’t falling, but we still found a way to win. I think that’s going to be key going to the postseason because everything isn’t going to be sweet.”
HARDEN ON THE CAREER SCORING LIST
In his 24-point night against Detroit on Saturday, James Harden moved past Larry Bird (21,791) into 34th place on the all-time NBA points list. Harden now has 21,792 career points.
“We all know how good Larry was and the things he did in Boston,” said Harden. “A legend. And I think I just play the game the right way and hopefully good things happen for me passing one of the greatest ever to play basketball is a great honor and I just got to continue to build because at the end of the day, I want my name to be mentioned with those greats.”
The next five on the list: Gary Payton (21,813), Clyde Drexler (22,195), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Dwyane Wade (23,165) and Adrian Dantley (23,177).
ABOUT THE KNICKS
The Knicks are 20-19 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Their previous loss to Brooklyn was the fourth of five straight; since then they are 15-11 and during that stretch dating back to Jan. 17, they are third in the league in defensive rating (107.9), eighth in net rating (2.9), and 19th in offensive rating (110.8) over 26 games. Defense has been a constant all season. For the full year, the Knicks are fourth in defensive rating (108.6), first in opponent field goal percentage (44.0), first in opponent 3-point percentage (33.2), and first in opponent effective field goal percentage (51.2). They’re also fifth in rebounds per game (46.3) and fifth in rebounding percentage (51.7). The Knicks have picked things up offensively over the last two months, but for the season they’re still 28th in the league in points per game (105.9), 21st in field goal percentage (45.5) and 23rd in offensive rating (108.8). New York shoots well from 3-point range (37.2 percent, 11th), but is 29th in in both 3-pointers made (10.5) and attempted per game (28.2). Julius Randle leads the Knicks with 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game, shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Second-year guard RJ Barrett is averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.