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Nets find winning formula by reducing number of contested three-point shots

Nets guard Joe Harris is congratulated by Spencer

Nets guard Joe Harris is congratulated by Spencer Dinwiddie after he sinks a three-point shot against theBulls at Barclays Center on Feb. 26, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Next to the Rockets, the Nets are the most prolific three-point shooting team in the league. When the ball is going in the basket, it’s a beautiful thing and fun to watch, but since the Nets also rank 28th in three-point shooting percentage at 34.7, there are many games when their offensive efficiency goes south.

That pattern changed for one night in Charlotte when the Nets and perimeter shooter Allen Crabbe found a balance between shooting open threes and driving to the rim. The result was an efficient offense that helped the Nets to a 125-111 win over the Hornets to break a 10-game road losing streak.

After an 8-for-17 performance from three-point range in the first half, the Nets reverted in the second half with a 3-for-15 effort, but it didn’t matter because they persisted in driving to the rim when they didn’t have an open look instead of taking contested threes.

“We talked about it at halftime,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I still felt like we took a few contested ones. We had to drive their rotations, drive their close-outs. I think the first play of the game, they closed at Allen Crabbe hard, and he ripped it left and hits a shot.

“We’ve just got to find that balance of getting to the rim and then shooting the open catch-and-shoot threes. That’s what we love at the end of the day. That’s what we work for. But great balance in terms of driving and shooting the three.”

Caris LeVert credited starting guards Spencer Dinwiddie, who had 10 assists, and D’Angelo Russell for driving hard to the rim early against the Hornets. “They set the tempo for the game,” LeVert said. “That really got us going early, and we saw that we could drive. Our guards did a great job of finishing, and we did a great job of knocking down threes.”

No one was better from three-point range than Crabbe, who scored 20 of his 29 points in the first half when he made his first seven shots, including six threes. He missed his final five three-point attempts but still was effective because he drove to find space for mid-range shots.

“We took good shots tonight,” Crabbe said. “We played with the pass. That’s our motto. We played as a team, and it was one of those nights where shots were going in for guys.”

Crabbe now has 159 made three-pointers, which is 10 short of the Nets’ season record set by Deron Williams in 2012-13. Asked about the significance of making that mark his own, Crabbe downplayed it.

“That’s a cool stat, but I just have to keep doing whatever I can to contribute to helping the team get wins,” Crabbe said. “The bigger picture is for us to develop as a team. That’s all it’s about. It wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my teammates. Everybody played a part in helping me get that. But the biggest focus is team and just finishing the season strong.”

For one game, the Nets found the right offensive formula. If they do it consistently, it will start showing up in the win column.

New York Sports