Thoughts on the Game: The Devin Harris Roller Coaster Continues


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It’s just been one of those seasons for Devin Harris. The guy comes back after missing four games with a wrist injury and probably has his best all-around game of the season last night, finishing with 24 points and 11 assists on 7-14 shooting, but one inexplicable play in the closing seconds makes him the goat.

With the Nets getting another gift via the missed free throw, trailing the Pistons 96-93 with 17.7 seconds, they opted to push the ball up the court rather than call the timeout. After getting the ball past halfcourt, Courney Lee handed the ball back to Devin who decided to take a very ill-advised three-pointer a good three or four feet away from the line, airballing it.

There were a number of things wrong with how that played shook out besides the fact that Harris didn’t even hit the rim on the shot. First, why not call the timeout after Kris Humphries recovered the rebound off the Richard Hamilton free throw miss? Second, if you wanted to push the ball and saw no play open up immediately, why not call the timeout then? Third, if you’re still eager to go for it all then, why is Devin Harris shooting the ball with 7 seconds a yardstick away from the three point line?

Just odd playcalling/decision making by one of the guys who’s supposed to be the veteran presence on this team. The Nets are now 1-6 in these close and late games, and that’s obviously not a surprise given the inexperience on the roster, but even in the midst of this awful season for the Nets, I still expected more from Devin. I can understand that he was brimming with confidence after his performance last night, and rightly so. He was doing a little bit of everything, and from the opening tip, he looked like he had an extra bounce in his step. He was drawing fouls (10-11 free throw line), finishing at the hoop and even hit a few midrange jumpers, an element of his offensive game that’s been missing all season. It was a performance that gives credence to the theory that his struggles this season are due in large part to the ongoing list of injuries he’s experienced. But still, that last play. It’s hard to just look past it.

The Nets finished this home stand against some of the league’s worst teams 1-3, their one win coming against the Clippers, probably the best team of the four they faced. In a season where the Nets are on pace to have the worst record in NBA history, losing the past three games because of mental errors and poor execution in crunch time situations feels like an opportunity lost. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, but there were a number of positives to take away from the homestead.

Brook Lopez continued his string of solid games, getting off to a hot start from the field and finishing with with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.  He even hit a straightaway jumper from about 20-feet out with 3 minutes remaining that had me cringing when he released, but was right on target, to put the Nets up by 4.

I thought Courtney Lee also had a nice all-around performance, finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. He was 3-4 from three pointers, his one miss coming with less than a minute to go. But I thought he was very active on the defensive end, doing the best you can do against a guy like Rip Hamilton who just moves so well without the ball. There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing over the benching of Chris Douglas-Roberts with some fans asking why CDR got demoted over Courtney Lee. I honestly think it’s games like last night’s that keep Courtney in the coaching staff’s good graces. He very quietly does a lot of little things that help the team win.

And on the topic of CDR and starting rotations, I thought Jarvis Hayes settled into the starting five nicely. He hit a couple of jumpers early, and had a nice bucker in the first when he cut to the basket  and got the layup off the Devin Harris assist. CDR on the other hand, looked tentative again, and was limited to just 10 minutes.

  • With the announcement that Del Harris is leaving Kiki Vandeweghe’s bench after last night, you have to wonder if things are going to get a lot worse for the Nets during these close and late situations. Kiki openly admitted after Sunday’s loss to Philly that he called the wrong play for Jarvis Hayes, which is something I give Kiki credit for. But he’s such a green, inexperienced coach, who reportedly wanted nothing to do with the position. While it looks like assistant John Loyer is going to see his role expand, I don’t know if that’s going to be nice enough to protect Kiki from Kiki.
  • On the positive side, I give Kiki plenty of credit for going with Kris Humphries down the stretch instead of Yi. Yi just had absolutely nothing all game, finishing 1-12 from the field. He also seemed to injure his shoulder in the first half, and was favoring it throughout the game.
  • I think the Nets definitely missed Keyon Dooling last night, who missed the game with his on again, off again hip issues. Chris Quinn looked a bit flustered by Detroit’s backup PG Will Bynum and Dooling would have probably have done a better job backing up Devin.
  • Terrence Williams finished with 5 assists in 20 minutes and could have had a few more if not for some costly drops and turnovers in the lane by the Nets bigs.
  • How must Detroit fans feel about the money their team spent on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in the off-season, who combined for 7 points last night.