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Nets' Joe Harris: Big 3 from behind the arc

Joe Harris of the Nets hits a three-point

Joe Harris of the Nets hits a three-point shot during the second quarter against the Heat at Barclays Center on Jan. 23. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Since acquiring James Harden to form the Big 3 with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have put together the most high-scoring offense in the NBA. When the initial results of All-Star voting were released, Durant was the top vote-getter in the league, and Irving and Harden were second and third among Eastern Conference guards.

Lost in the shuffle in the excitement over the Nets’ superstar trio is the fact that 2018-19 three-point percentage leader Joe Harris is playing the best basketball of his career. Harris is averaging 14.9 points on 51.2% overall shooting, 48.7% three-point shooting and an effective field-goal percentage of 66.5%, all numbers that are career-highs. Harris ranks sixth in three-point percentage and 10th in made three-pointers per game (3.3), and he is coming off a three-game stretch in which he made 16 of 29 three-point attempts (55.2%).

Obviously, opposing defenses pay so much attention to the Big 3, who combined for 90 points in Tuesday night’s win over the Clippers, that Harris is getting more open space that ever. "When I know that I have a little bit of space, the ball comes my way, and it’s almost instantaneous that the shot’s going up," Harris said following practice on Thursday.

"I’m not giving it a ton of thought. There’s not a lot of indecision there. The ball comes my way, I’ve got to let it fly. Make or miss, it’s good for us because it helps create a little bit more space for guys maybe the next time down and the following possession after that."

Next up for the Nets (14-9) Friday night at Barclays Center is a game against the Raptors (9-12), who started the season slowly but are coming off a win over the Magic in which Fred Van Vleet went off for a career-high 54 points. Although the Nets have struggled against losing teams, the Raptors, who are based in Tampa because of COVID travel restrictions in Canada, are bound to get their attention after winning the NBA title two years ago.

"Regardless of who you’re playing against, if you want to be a championship team, then we have to play championship-level basketball," Harris said. "I don’t think them being ninth in the East is indicative of just how good of a team they are. They’re NBA champions a couple years removed. They’re a fully capable team that is one of the top-tier teams in the East regardless of what the record might say right now."

Notes & quotes: Recently acquired center Norvel Pelle and swingman Iman Shumpert are expected to be available Friday against the Raptors. But backup center Nic Claxton (right knee tendinopathy) remains out. "Nic is still a few weeks away," coach Steve Nash said. "Hopefully, next week he can start playing with the ‘stay ready’ group. I don’t want to put a timeline on it. He’s getting there. He’s definitely improving. And Norvel, obviously, we’re trying to get him in shape and see what we’ve got. And if we need minutes out of him, we have no problem putting him in the game…(Shumpert) is out of COVID protocol and is completely available (Friday)."

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