Brooklyn Nets: Joe Harris delivers big effort in big game

Brooklyn Nets Joe Harris. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Joe Harris. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris had been having difficulty getting space as opposing defenses focused on him, but he got space Friday and delivered.

The Brooklyn Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night as Joe Harris showed L.A. time and again why he’s the best 3-point shooter in the game right now.

Harris canned 6-of-8 from deep, helping to carry the Nets to their 111-106 victory that gave them their second straight win on their seven-game road trip, upon which they improved to 2-3, and increased their cushion over the ninth-place Orlando Magic to 2½ games.

More from Nothin' But Nets

Brooklyn’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now six, because they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Orlando and they can put away the Charlotte Hornets with a combination of wins and Charlotte losses that add up to five because they have a better conference record.

The Nets can stop worrying about the Washington Wizards with either a win or a Wizards loss, as they also hold the Eastern Conference record tiebreaker advantage over Washington.

As for Harris, the Lakers didn’t do a terrific job of running him off the 3-point line and he was able to find space to burn L.A. over and over.

The Nets have never had a player win the regular-season 3-point shooting title, but Harris has pulled away from the pack and has a significant lead now, improving to 47.1 percent on the season with his 26-point outburst Friday.

That tracks to be the best single-season shooting performance in Nets franchise history. His next closest competitor for the NBA lead is Portland Trail Blazers reserve Seth Curry, who is at 44.7 percent. Danny Green of the Toronto Raptors is the only other qualifier better than 44 percent at 44.6.

Harris even got a symbol of his grit, as he got scraped across the eye by Lakers center Tyson Chandler on an attempt inside and finished the game with a bit of a shiner on his right eye.

After the game, coach Kenny Atkinson recognized the importance of Harris breaking out of a bit of a cold stretch … albeit one most shooters would call a pretty good run. Atkinson described Harris’ impact on the game.

"“Huge. Not only Joe’s 3s, but I thought he had a few big drives at the end of the game. Two finishes, one going left and then I think the one on [Kyle Kuzma] going right where he really kind of punished and finished. Joe’s just an all-around excellent player.“He’s been struggling a little bit shooting the ball so it was good to see him come back. We need him desperately.”"

Harris often gets compared to shooters such as Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick, but neither of those players is remotely as effective driving the basketball as Harris. It adds a dimension to Harris’ game that makes him a dual-threat.

Close out too aggressively at the 3-point line and Harris won’t hesitate to blow by you, like he did to Kuzma on the play Atkinson referenced above.

Harris had proved over the last two seasons he could be an effective rotation player in the NBA, but this season he’s taken the next step, becoming a reliable and effective starter.

He’s started all 69 games he’s played in this season and is averaging career-highs of 13.5 points in 29.7 minutes a night, shooting 50.1 percent overall (a career-high) and 47.1 percent on 5.0 3-point attempts per game (also career-highs).

Harris is fourth among active NBA players at 42.4 percent from deep for his career, a mark that is good for 12th all-time and he’s progressed in his efficiency this season to the point he has 12 more made 3s this season than last on 14 fewer attempts.

light. More. 10 best rookie seasons in Nets' history

Tough as nails with the smoothest stroke you’ll find in the NBA right now. That combination is one of the many factors behind the rise of the Brooklyn Nets in 2018-19.