Jumping into the air, with both hands on the ball and slamming the ball into the rim with a spin, Joe Harris came off the bench last Monday night to score 16 points against the Clippers in 26 minutes. But the Nets lost anyway, 114 -101.
The Nets have lost seven consecutive home games. But three players are trying to change the Nets fortune. On Monday night, Joe Harris (Small Forward/ Shooting Guard), Allen Crabbe (Shooting Guard) and Spencer Dinwiddie (Point Guard), shared their thoughts on the rest of the season.
“I mean it’s definitely difficult right now, nobody in here likes to lose. Especially in the fashion that we have been playing here lately,” said 26-year-old Harris after the game inside the locker room. Harris has become a valuable commodity to the Nets since October 2016. Harris scored 16 points, 2 rebounds with 1 assist on Monday night.
The Nets are on a losing streak because they have been suffering defensively for most of the season. In October, the Nets star player Jeremy Lin (Point Guard) injured his right knee and ended up needing surgery to repair a ruptured patella. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Power Forward, Small Forward, Shooting Guard) was injured with a right groin strain, when the Nets played the Bucks on January 26th. When the Nets played against the Rockets on February 6th, Caris LeVert, (Small Forward, Shooting Guard) sprained his knee. These three players will be out for the rest of the season.
“Of course it sucks, you never want to wish injury on any teammate. But I mean at the same time it just gives opportunities to other guys on the team to step up,” said Crabbe locker room after the game. Crabbe scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds on Monday night.
Harris thinks it’s important for the Nets to continue to shoot with confidence and not be hesitant to shoot threes because their coach gives them a lot of freedom offensively.
But will Harris, Crabbe and Dinwiddie’s efforts be enough to turn the season around? From their perspective, the three of them are planning to try to give their best efforts to make things happen even without Lin in the lineup.
Dinwiddie averaged 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds per 36 minutes and 17 points. He has come a long way in the last 14 months from toiling in G-league. Recently the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly offered the Nets a first-round pick for point guard Dinwiddie.
“When star players leave it definitely hurts the team. Jeremy was injured in the first game of the season so obviously, we had quite a bit of time to adjust and reshape roles. But it is always a big blow because Jeremy was going to mean so much to us.” Dinwiddie said before the game in the locker room.
Doc Rivers, the Clippers head coach for over five years, has taken notice of the Brooklyn Nets rising stars—and said as much before Monday’s game. “[Harris] is an aggressive shooter. Joe can have a game where he misses four, five, six, three-pointers in a row and the next game he is not hesitating. That what makes him a good player,” Rivers said.
Rivers also took notice of Crabbe’s potential. “Anybody that can shoot demands attention. Crabbe wants to catch shoot but he can put it on the floor. Shooters who are great shooters that have great confidence become dangerous. So yea he is on the radar,” Rivers said.
The Nets’ players have definitely been stepping up but now their main focus is to get better defensively as a team.
“They gave me a blueprint on how things were going to go this year. I read a stat that 13 games that we lost were by 5 points or less. Right now we are kind of stagnant so hopefully after we come back from All-Star break we can turn things around,” Crabbe said.
Nets Coach Kenny Atkinson believes the team is in a tough stretch right now, but he acknowledges that these three players– Harris, Crabbe and Dinwiddie– have made a difference.
“I think that a lot of teams get injuries. But that has hit us I think hard,” Atkinson said after the game in the press room. “It has been a struggle without those guys, but I think our bench is trying.”