Brooklyn Nets: Joe Harris finally makes triumphant return to Cleveland

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Joe Harris began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being dumped in a 2016 trade. Now with the Brooklyn Nets, he showed Cavs fans what they lost.

Joe Harris didn’t play a perfect game for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. But he was awfully good, enough so that for the first time as a visiting player, he walked out of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as a winner.

Harris began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a second-round pick in 2014, his arrival in Cleveland coinciding with the return of franchise icon LeBron James after his four-year talent-taking tour in Miami.

A young player suddenly finding himself on a team with championship aspirations, Harris never got much of an opportunity with the Cavaliers.

He appeared in 51 games as a rookie, averaging 2.7 points in 9.7 minutes per game while spending a significant portion of the season shuttling back and forth between Cleveland and the Canton Charge in what was then the D-League.

An injured right foot which required surgery ended his second season early. He appeared in only five games, scoring three points, and a week after he was declared out for the year, Harris was traded to the Orlando Magic for essentially nothing (a heavily protected 2020 second-round pick).

The Magic released him immediately after the trade and Harris was out of professional basketball.

The Brooklyn Nets threw him a lifeline in July 2016, signing him to a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. Harris had a solid season as member of the Nets’ rotation before being shut down for the final six weeks with a concussion.

Last season, Harris had a breakout campaign, averaging 10.8 points per game and shooting .491/.419/.827. That earned him a two-year, $16 million contract to remain in Brooklyn as a free agent.

He’s opened this season as a starter and is off to a very solid start. Wednesday night in Cleveland, he was a difference maker, scoring 16 points in 27 minutes, hitting 6-of-9 overall and going 4-for-5 from 3-point range with six rebounds, a couple of assists and a steal.

It was the first time in four appearances at Quicken Loans Arena that Harris was on the winning side, as the Nets snapped a 10-game losing streak in Cleveland with a 102-86 victory.

On the season, Harris is averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.5 minutes per game. He is shooting a scorching .550/.591/2-for-3 thus far and has now hit 12-of-15 from 3-point range in the last three games.

He hit his first four attempts from deep on Wednesday and had seven points during Brooklyn’s decisive third quarter burst, in which the Nets outscored the Cavaliers 23-5 to open the period and 38-17 overall in the quarter to break open a game that had been tied at halftime.

Harris wasn’t the high scorer for the Nets on the evening. That was D’Angelo Russell, who finished with 18 points, but needed 14 shots to do it.

Heck, it wasn’t even Harris’ highest-scoring game as a visitor in Cleveland; he had 18 points there last Nov. 22, going 7-for-10 off the bench and hitting all three of his 3-point tries, but that effort came in a 119-109 loss.

Given another chance to show the Cavaliers what they gave up, Harris not only had an outstanding game, but did it in a big win for the Nets, who are now 2-2 and got their first road win in three tries this season.

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That’s a pretty good night.