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Stan Van Gundy, Kenny Atkinson agree that Tobias Harris is All-Star candidate

Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) drives on

Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) drives on Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Photo Credit: AP / Paul Sancya

DETROIT — It might not happen, but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson both agree that former Half Hollow Hills West forward Tobias Harris is worthy of consideration to be picked as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Harris, who led the Pistons with 20 points in a 101-100 loss to the Nets on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena, is averaging 18.0 points and 5.1 rebounds and playing with consistency, as reflected by 18 games of at least 20 points.

Van Gundy can’t vote for his own players when the coaches pick the reserves, but he said Harris and center Andre Drummond merit consideration. On Harris’ improvement, Van Gundy said, “He’s a guy who is an extremely hard worker with a great deal of pride who’s always trying to get better. He’s not somebody who walks around and thinks he’s arrived or thinks he’s done enough.

“This year, it was really a lot of emphasis on shooting the three. He’s had a good year from there even though he’s struggled a little bit lately, and that’s opened up the other parts of his game.”

Reflecting on the impact Harris made 11 days earlier in the Pistons’ blowout win at Barclays Center, Atkinson said, “I think Tobias is having a fantastic year. They have two legitimate All-Star candidates.”

Russell struggles again

In his second game since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery, D’Angelo Russell struggled again. He scored three points, shot 1-for-5 and had one assist in 14:29. The basket was his first field goal in two games and came after eight straight misses.

“He’s just rusty,” Atkinson said. “This isn’t the ideal team to go against when they’re swarming, double-teaming the ballhandler . . . He hit a big three at the end of the [third] quarter. I think it’s normal progression. He’ll improve as he gets more games.”

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