Nets Notes: Nic Claxton Puts Up a Career High
In his fourth game of the season, Claxton scores 17 vs. Spurs
After a long wait, things are moving quickly for Nic Claxton.
In his fourth game of the season on Monday night, Claxton put up a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in Brooklyn’s 124-113 win in San Antonio.
“It felt good. I got a little rhythm and I’m starting to get my legs back a little bit, so it felt good to be out there and my teammates found me,” said Claxton. “James (Harden) especially put me in positions to score. When the game is made that simple for me, I’m gonna take that free money every time.”
Claxton did indeed feast off feeds from Harden, who picked up a healthy dose of his 15 assists on the night by finding the 6-foot-11 Claxton lurking near the rim as defenders flocked to Harden.
He made an impact quickly, putting up 13 of his points in the second quarter alone.
“Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the spots that James wants me to be in. It’s only the fourth game,” said Claxton. “I’ve still got a long way to go and just figuring out where I need to be. I’m just running. I’m just playing hard. When you play hard, the game is gonna reward you, and I feel like that’s what happened tonight.”
Claxton missed Brooklyn’s first 32 games as he recovered from right knee tendinopathy, a stretch that allowed him to continue getting his shoulder fit after surgery last summer. The second-year forward debuted against Sacramento, then had 10 points and four steals in his second game as the Nets beat Orlando.
Against San Antonio, he added three blocks and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
“I honestly didn’t have many expectations,” said Claxton. “I just wanted to come out and focus on defense. I’m switching one through five and that’s something that I really wanted to lock in on. If I’m playing defense, the offense is gonna come. Honestly, I’m still rehabbing. Still getting my legs back, still getting my flow. So I wouldn’t say that I exceeded my expectations. I’m doing things on the court that I know I’m capable of doing, and I’m a little more free this year, so I’m just playing basketball and having fun.”
He's quickly found that chemistry with Harden, who is on pace to lead the NBA in assists for the first time in his career. Harden arrived in Brooklyn in January, and at the time Claxton had a total of 15 NBA games under his belt from his rookie season. Now he’s shaping up as another pick-and-roll partner for Harden.
“Nic was just working out, working out, working out,” said Harden. “Just working his butt off and I didn't know how far away he was, I didn't know his injury. I was still trying to get acclimated to everything that was going on around the facilities and what not. But I could tell he was working his butt off in the weight room, on the court, putting in the conditioning work. And now that he's on the court, it's paying off — the work that he's put in. So, all he does is play hard and that's all you can expect from a young guy. Scoring and the other flashy things like that plays will happen once you play hard. He knows his role. It is something we don't have to stress to him. He seems like he's comfortable out there. And once he gets into full basketball shape and continues to play games, I'm sure he'll be even better.”
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