SALT LAKE CITY — Success breeds respect. Which might explain why Nets three-point shooters Joe Harris, who is No. 1 in the NBA with a .465 percentage from outside the arc, and Allen Crabbe lately have received increased attention from opposing defenses.
When those two are on, the Nets have a dynamic offense, and when they’re missing, the Nets struggle.
That was evident in their loss Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. Harris finally nailed a pair of late threes after the game had been decided. But in the past seven games, he has been held to 10-for-29 shooting from three-point range (34.5 percent), including five games with one made three-pointer, and Crabbe has been held to 11-for-36 shooting from deep (30.6 percent), with four games of one or fewer makes.
Improving those numbers will be one key to beating the Jazz on Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson credited the Thunder as one of the top defensive teams, but he added, “That being said, we have not been good offensively since the All-Star break. We’re going to have to look at it. I think our decision-making has got to be a little quicker. I think we’re passing up shots, quite honestly.
“Allen Crabbe, I’d love for him to shoot nine threes tonight. To beat a team like this, you’ve got to let it go when it’s open. They had us on our heels a little bit.”
Atkinson acknowledged that opposing defenses are paying special attention to Harris and working to limit his threes. Point guard D’Angelo Russell said the attention Harris is receiving is to be expected.
“He’s the three-point champion,” said Russell, referring to Harris’ win on All-Star Weekend. “I hope so. We’ve just got to figure out ways to keep him involved.”
Spencer Dinwiddie agreed that he and Russell must find more ways to create open shots for Harris and Crabbe. He also noted the fact that DeMarre Carroll, another valuable three-point shooter, missed the Thunder game because of a knee injury.
“I wouldn’t pin our struggles on Joe,” Dinwiddie said. “I think it’s a young group trying to find themselves post-All-Star break. We’ve been juggling rotations and recently we’ve kind of stuck with a certain lineup. But we were missing DeMarre.
“That’s why in the [previous] game, we were all very high to beat Detroit pretty soundly. I said it needs to be measured because we’re still finding ourselves.”
When Crabbe was told that Atkinson wants him to keep shooting, he smiled. “I’ve just got to have the mindset that, regardless of me missing three, four, five in a row, I’m doing a disservice to my team by not shooting the next one,’’ he said. “Not once have I ever heard anybody tell me to stop shooting. They told me shooters shoot. So I’m going to keep doing that.”