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Kenny Atkinson wants Allen Crabbe to keep shooting

Allen Crabbe takes a three-point shot against the

Allen Crabbe takes a three-point shot against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on Feb. 8. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Allen Crabbe hasn’t hurt the Nets’ cause even though his shot has been failing to consistently land in the basket of late. But it would help their playoff push even more if the shooting guard could start shooting straight and producing points on a steady basis again.

“The shooting is vital,” Kenny Atkinson said after Friday’s practice. “That’s part of the thinking of getting him in the starting lineup.”

Atkinson put Crabbe back in it and moved Caris LeVert to the second unit two games ago. The Nets won both. So they’re 34-33 with 15 left. They sat seventh in the East heading into Friday night’s play — .001 behind Detroit.

But the schedule is about to take a sharp turn down a treacherous road, with eight of the next nine away from Barclays Center, starting Saturday night at Atlanta.

So this would be a good time for Crabbe to heat up, although his shooting capability has led to defenders staying with him anyway, opening the floor for the pick-and-roll and alley-oops.

“Even though he’s not getting the numbers right now, I think his value in that starting lineup is bigger than we all think,” Atkinson said. “I think his defense has been really solid, too.”

His shot was in a good place approaching mid-December. Then a sore right knee sidelined him for 26 games.

“It was frustrating,” Crabbe said. “I made progress and kind of had some setbacks.”

After a quiet first game back Feb. 6, he averaged 18 points in the next four and went 16-for-33 on three-pointers. But Crabbe has averaged just 5.6 points and 31.9 percent from the floor, including 25 percent from distance, in the last seven.

“I’m putting them up and they’re going in in practice,” said Crabbe, who’s averaging 9.5 points and 38.1 percent on threes overall. “I’ve just got to make them in the game, really. So my confidence in my shot is not wavering.”

That shot accounted for a franchise-record 201 threes last season.

“If I’m in a slump, just get up extra shots,” Crabbe said. “Come in the morning, stay after practice.”

He’ll keep firing away. His teammates wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s funny because we always hear, ‘Allen’s in a slump,’ and then the next game he’ll have 30,” DeMarre Carroll said. “And then we’ll be like, ‘He’s a shooter. You’ve got to keep shooting.’ ”

Two out. Treveon Graham (back) and Shabazz Napier (personal reason) are out against Atlanta.

Allen Crabbe's last seven games

Opponent        FG    3P       Points

At Charlotte    1-6    1-5       3

San Antonio    3-9    2-8       8

Washington     3-6    2-5       8

Charlotte         2-4    1-3       5

at Miami          1-9    1-9       3

Dallas              3-7    2-3       8

Cleveland         2-6    0-3       4

Source: basketball-reference.com

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