Joe Harris and Landry Shamet each knocked down six 3-pointers in Friday’s 130-115 win over Charlotte, a game in which the Nets made 21-of-41 3-point attempts — 51.2 percent — in the fifth game this season in which they’ve made at least 20 3-pointers.
Shamet finished with 20 points and Harris scored 26, including Brooklyn’s first 10 of the fourth quarter — with two 3-pointers and three free throws after getting fouled on a third attempt — as the Nets broke the game open.
“He didn’t have any conscience,’ said Shamet. “He was just shooting. That’s the best Joe. He’s just out there getting looks up. We joke about how many ‘jacks’ we’re going to get in a game. That’s our word for it. And when he’s hunting them and getting them up like that, it’s always fun to see. It bodes real well for our offense, it makes everybody else’s life easier when he’s even just getting them up. We love to see that from Joe.”
The Brooklyn shooting outburst came just two nights after the Nets made just 4-of-21 3-pointers against Philadelphia — the fewest they’ve made or attempted in a game this season.
“Philly did a good job defensively,” said Harris. “I think in total we didn’t make too many threes, I can’t remember exactly what the number was but I know it was one of our lowest of the season. It’s not that we live and die by threes, but when the three-ball is going for us it opens up a number of other options offensively. But a lot of times the threes are going for us because everything is all in sync; the defense is there, we’re able to get out in transition, get easier looks that way. Against Philly it was tough from the start. It seemed like we were playing against a set defense for most of the night.”
The Hornets were a good team for Harris, Shamet and company to launch those ‘jacks’ against. While they’re in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency, the Hornets allow the most 3-point attempts in the league, 40.4. Sunday’s opponent might offer a similar opportunity. The Miami Heat are 29th in opponent 3-point attempts, allowing 39.9 per game. Both the Hornets and Heat, though, are in the middle of the pack in 3-point percentage allowed. Teams are shooting 36.9 percent from deep against Charlotte — 16th in the league — and 36.4 against the Heat — 12th in the league.
“There are teams that give up threes but really fly at you and do a good job of holding your percentage down,” said Nash after Friday’s game. “So, I don’t think that’s a black-and-white thing. I think there’s a gray area where some teams speed you up so it feels like you’re getting threes but maybe you’re rushing them or you feel under duress. It depends on the team. It also depends on the night, but this is a team that the way they kind of get in the gaps and try to keep people out of the paint, they do give up threes, they get in close-outs which give up threes as well. It’s just their style, it’s who they are. I think they’re the 13th defensive team in the league, so they’re a good defensive team. But they do give up threes. They happen to give up threes, and we have three-point shooters. It is a make-or-miss league, and tonight we made them.”
Brooklyn has done that well, and at high volume this season. The Nets are third in the NBA in 3-point percentage (39.1), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (14.1), and 11th in 3-pointers attempted per game (36.1).
“We have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and that requires that much more attention,” said Shamet. “So you know there’s going to be open looks throughout the night, but you don’t settle with that. That’s not the first thing I think about when I think about the Miami Heat, but you’ll take it and know that going into the game that these are where some of the opportunities are going to come from. But yeah, with our offense and the way we’re put together, and the guys we have, that bodes well for us.”
DEANDRE JORDAN BACK IN THE LINEUP
Center DeAndre Jordan has been back in the starting lineup for the last two games and back in the rotation for the last three after five consecutive DNPs following the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge. With Aldridge’s sudden retirement this week after experiencing an irregular heartbeat, Jordan is back in the mix at center.
“DJ has been great,” said Steve Nash. “I asked him to be patient with me. I didn’t say, ‘This is it. You’re not playing anymore.’ Because something always comes up. Now maybe I should stop saying that. But he was a great teammate. He accepted it. We wanted to give him some playing time in different spots anyways, but we also had to see where LaMarcus was at physically, how he fit in our team. The same with Blake (Griffin). The same with Nic (Claxton), who just kind of started his career so to speak. In a sense, he got caught in a position where not only we wanted to take a look at guys, but they were new and we had to see how they fit and what worked. So I asked him to be patient for a week or two, and that has kind of taken care of itself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t from the natural order.”
Already the NBA’s career leader in field goal percentage (67.4), Jordan has converted 93.8 percent of his shots in the last three games, averaging 11.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 21.3 minutes per game. He had a double-double against Philadelphia on Wednesday with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Jordan leads the NBA in effective field goal percentage this season (78.1).
The Nets have options with diverse skill sets at the position, from Jordan and Claxton to Griffin and Jeff Green. Nash said matchups will be significant in determining playing time going forward.
“I'm going to approach it like a job,” said Jordan. “I’m going to be a pro about it. I've supported my teammates and every one of them regardless of if I play 30 minutes, if I don't play at all. I think that's the thing about being a pro in this league. I think obviously, selfishly, individually it's obviously not ideal for me but being on a team you have to be able to sacrifice and put the team first and I've done that night in night out. And I'll continue to do that. Because we know what the bigger goal is and what the ultimate goal is and that's for us to reach the pinnacle and get better individually so we can become better as a collective and take this thing where we want it to go.”
It’s an attitude and an example noticed by teammates.
“DeAndre for a couple games, several games, wasn’t playing as much but he’s been in the weight room every day,” said Griffin. “He’s been on the court getting extra work in, staying in shape. That set a great example for the rest of us because if DeAndre can start all these games and then go to the bench and do that and then be ready again, nobody has any excuses. It’s not so much about, it’s my time or anything like that. It’s just, when your name is called and when you’re asked to do something, you be ready and do it and that’s sort of our mindset here is everybody has their part. You’ve got to stay ready and execute when you’re called.”
HARDEN ON THE TRIP
Steve Nash said James Harden would travel with the team for its three-games-in-four-days road trip that tips off in Miami on Sunday. Nash and general manager Sean Marks said on Friday that Harden is closing in on his return from a hamstring strain.
“He needs to play and there's no one to play with back here,” said Nash. “So, to get him his workouts that are necessary is the first step and to do that he has to travel.”
ABOUT THE HEAT
Miami is 28-28 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference after starting the season 6-12. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler for much of that early-season stretch, including their consecutive losses to the Nets in Brooklyn 128-124 on Jan. 23 and 98-85 on Jan. 25. Butler leads Miami with 21.4 points per game, plus 7.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.1 steals. Center Bam Adebayo averages 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists while shooting 56.6 percent. The Heat are sixth in defensive rating (110.3) and 25th in offensive rating (108.9).