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Caris LeVert’s shots aren’t falling, but Kenny Atkinson still believes in him

Caris LeVert of the Nets is defended by

Caris LeVert of the Nets is defended by Gary Harris of the Nuggets at Barclays Center on Oct 29, 2017. Credit: Steven Ryan

PHOENIX, Ariz. — After a dedicated offseason of work and his first full NBA training camp, Caris LeVert reasonably expected to take a step forward this season, but it hasn’t happened yet for the second-year shooting guard. Through nine games before the Nets faced the Suns Monday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena, LeVert’s shooting percentage had dropped from 45.0 percent last season to 34.3 percent, including a plunge in three-point percentage from 32.1 to 22.0.

But Nets coach Kenny Atkinson believes in LeVert, whose 28.1 minutes per game are second on the team. “He’s a young player trying to figure out who he is,” Atkinson said. “In terms of his effort and his energy, we like that. We like his defense. I talk about [the team] being out of rhythm offensively; he suffers a little if we’re not in rhythm.”

LeVert said he hasn’t found his rhythm, but he added, “I wouldn’t say that’s because of the offense. Definitely, the offense gives you a lot of easier shots. I don’t think I’ve had a lot of easy shots to get myself going. But we’ll be better.

“Everybody goes through something like this. It’s a little frustrating, but you’ve got to look at the next game.”

Acy back; Booker, Allen still out

Forward Quincy Acy (strained groin) returned to the lineup after missing three games, but forward Trevor Booker (sore lower back) missed his second straight game and center Jarrett Allen (sore foot) missed his second straight. Speaking of Booker, Atkinson said, “It’s day-to-day, back tightness. He can’t get the thing loose.” . . . The Nets play again Tuesday night in Denver, then have two off days before a Friday game in Portland . . . Atkinson said his wife, Laura, completed her first New York City Marathon on Sunday, describing her effort as a “bucket list” thing. “The last three miles, this lady from Italy helped her through,” Atkinson said. “ ‘C’mon, you can do it.’ . . . She said going through Brooklyn was awesome with the fans.”

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