Joe Harris becoming even bigger threat with these Nets

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The Nets’ Big 3 is a superstar-studded group.

But there’s another shooting star who has been thriving in their midst.

Joe Harris, the longest-tenured Net on the roster, is on a red-hot shooting tear, with his latest contributions coming in Thursday’s win against the Lakers, when he poured in 21 points on 6-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.

“I think just in general, coming away with a win, everybody kind of collectively playing well — you know, the stats are the stats,” Harris said Thursday night in Los Angeles, trying to downplay his big night against the defending champions. “But at the end of the day, what matters is winning games, trying to play the right way and building on what we’ve done.”

The Nets have certainly done that, carrying a five-game winning streak into Friday’s day off before wrapping up their Western swing Sunday against the Clippers.

Harris has played a key role in the process as he is taking more 3-pointers than he ever has in his career (6.6 attempts per game) and is converting them at a league-best 50.7 percent clip. That’s an improvement over Harris’ 47.4 percent 3-point shooting that led the league in 2018-19, when he was attempting 5.1 3-pointers per game.

Joe Harris
Joe Harris shoots the ball for the Nets.
Getty Images

The 29-year-old wing’s 3-point shooting prowess earned him a four-year, $75 million contract last offseason and he is living up to it early on, with plenty of statistics to back him up. Harris has made six or more 3-pointers five times this season after accomplishing that feat just six times in his fist six seasons combined. He passed 100 made 3-pointers on the season Thursday night, in his 31st game, the fastest any Net has reached the century mark in a season. The previous record was 41 games.

All of that has come with the Nets’ offensive firepower looking much different than it did in Harris’ first four seasons in Brooklyn. While Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden have only played seven games together so far, due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, Harris’ opportunities haven’t fallen off in those games — he’s averaging 7.3 attempts from deep.

The outlier for Harris came on Jan. 27, when he shot 0-for-3 from 3-point range in a win over the Hawks, snapping his franchise-record streak of 79 straight games with a made 3-pointer. In 11 games since, he has quickly caught fire again, shooting 56.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Harris, who is averaging career-highs of 15.1 points and 30.9 minutes per game, has been the benefactor of defenses keying in on the Nets’ Big 3, with his ability to catch and shoot — and make — helping them in return.

“A lot of guys have got to stay close to the body on Joe,” Irving said. “Whenever I’m attacking to his side, I know that I have an advantage potentially. So I just try to work Joe into our offense as best I can because he’s going to do what he does and that’s move to open spots. But I think he’s added some dimensions to his game where he’s able to attack the rim and create more opportunities for himself on the perimeter. When he drives and you have a great shooter like that driving, it collapses the defense enough to where it gives other guys open shots.

“So we’re just enjoying it. We want everybody to continue to give each other confidence, and Joe is doing a great job as well as all our other guys.”

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