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Joe Harris gets a shot at more playing time and delivers

The Nets swingman has boosted his scoring by hitting from three-point range.

Joe Harris of the Nets reacts after a

Joe Harris of the Nets reacts after a three-point basket against the Hawks at Barclays Center on Dec. 2, 2017. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Nets on Saturday dropped a home game to an inferior Hawks team because they lacked energy and intensity and couldn’t stay with their game plan. As coach Kenny Atkinson said, “I don’t think any of us were very good.”

There may have been one exception. Swingman Joe Harris had 13 points and shot 4-for-7, including four three-pointers. He also had three rebounds and three assists.

There might be a trend developing. Harris has scored at least 10 points in six straight games. In that span, he has averaged 13.0 points in 28.5 minutes, shooting 51 percent from the field and 49 percent from three-point range.

“Obviously, I’ve played more here recently with guys out, and that gives you more of an opportunity,” Harris said. “Plus I think it brings out a more aggressive side of you because we’ve been a bit limited. In order for us to succeed and do well, I’ve had to be more aggressive and produce a little more.”

Many in the organization — including DeMarre Carroll — believe that Harris and Cleveland’s Kyle Korver are cut from a similar cloth. In many ways, Korver is the current benchmark among NBA three-point shooters. He’s hit them at a clip of 40 percent for the past nine seasons and ranks fifth in NBA history in three-pointers made.

“I always told him: I said, ‘You can be a Kyle Korver,’ because he can shoot at a high level,” said Carroll, who played two seasons in Atlanta with Korver when he led the league in three-point percentage. “To me, he’s more athletic than Kyle. I give him that parameter so he can go look at film of Kyle and look how he gets ready. I think Joe’s been doing a good job watching a lot of film on Kyle. He’s mastering that three-point shot, and he’s only going to get better.”

Atkinson was an assistant coach in Atlanta and believes the Korver comparison ignores many of Harris’ other strengths, including a savvy ability to drive to the basket, play defense and find the open man with a smooth pass in Atkinson’s ball-movement offense.

“He’s not turning the ball over nearly as much, obviously shooting the ball well, but defense is improving,” Atkinson said. “He’s an improved player. I’m really pleased.

“He’s [become] a judicious driver,” he added. “I felt like last year he’d sometimes go in there with no rhyme or reason. So he’s learned control, [to] pick his spots. And obviously he’s more comfortable with what we’re doing.”

When it was relayed last week to Harris that Atkinson doesn’t think Korver has to be the bar he strives for, the 26-year-old wasn’t sure what to make of it. “I’m not sure exactly what Kenny was saying in that regard, but maybe [it’s] just more in the context of me being able to try and rebound at a little bit higher clip,” he said.

“Obviously, I’m still trying to get to that level, and I’m definitely not anywhere close to it yet,” he added. “But that’s the goal for sure to try and get to the caliber of somebody like a Korver, shoot it the percentage he shoots it at consistently and just being solid all the way around.”

If the past six games are any measure, strides are being made.

Whitehead assigned to G League. Isaiah Whitehead, who played only the final three minutes of Saturday’s loss and scored two points, was assigned to Brooklyn’s G League club, the Long Island Nets.

With Greg Logan

New York Sports