New Jersey Nets' Devin Harris can't do everything in return to lineup
Sunday, November 22nd 2009, 4:00 AM
Devin Harris might eventually help the Nets snap their season-opening losing streak. But as the Nets found out Saturday, they probably will need Harris to be at his absolute best before they win a game.
Back on the court for the first time in three weeks, Harris only showed flashes of his normal self in the Nets' 98-91 loss to the Knicks at the Meadowlands that stretched their losing streak to 13 games.
Harris, who hadn't played since Oct.30 - the Nets' second game - due to a strained groin, scored 12 points and had seven assists in a little less than 26 minutes. Though he was satisfied with his performance, Harris didn't like that it resulted in another loss.
"I definitely hoped it would end in a win," Harris said.
The Nets' regular starting point guard began the game on the bench and entered with 4:20 left in the first quarter and his team trailing by two. After the Knicks scored five straight points, Harris finally made his presence known, driving down the left side of the lane and making a tightly contested layup that cut the deficit to 21-16.
Seconds later, Harris lobbed a pass to Brook Lopez, who plucked it out of the air and jammed it in for a crowd-pleasing alley-oop.
On the Nets' next possession, Harris skipped a fast-break pass to Chris Douglas-Roberts, who was fouled on his way to the rim and made one of two free throws to make it a two-point game.
So in just over a minute, Harris was back to making the kind of plays he did last season, when he was a first-time All-Star. However, after scoring eight points in the first half, Harris trailed off, making only two of his final seven shots. One of his misses was a floater in the lane that could have trimmed the Knicks' lead to two with 1:24 left.
Since Harris had missed so much time, Lawrence Frank expected him to trail off late.
"I thought he gave great effort and made some great hustle plays. He gave us a paint attacker," the coach said. "It's going to take a couple of weeks for him to get his conditioning and we're going to have to play him in short stretches, but I thought he did a very good job."
Before Saturday, Harris was one of seven players out with injuries. And he was so determined to help the Nets pick up that elusive first win that he threw down a rare one-handed jam and dove after loose balls, landing a couple of rows into the stands at one point.
That play was probably unnecessary, and maybe not so smart considering his value to the team, but his teammates appreciated the effort.
Still, the Nets were hit with the reality that just because Harris has returned does not mean winning will be easy.
"We have our best player back," Lopez said. "Obviously that brings some (optimism), and his leadership is very underrated, so that will help us, too. That being said, we're still searching for our first win."
The Nets start a four-game western trip on Tuesday against Denver and Harris knows they have to figure out a way to win tight games like Saturday's. If not, they could break the all-time mark of 17 straight losses to start a season.
"It's tough," Harris said. "We've been so close in so many games. As a team we have to learn how to win those close games. It looks like we're going to play in a lot of them."
The Jets got pummeled by the Patriots while the Giants resurrected their playoff hopes by sapping a four-game skid, beating the Falcons in OT.
Myers: Getting blown out by the Patriots Sunday raises serious issues about whether this team has a pulse.
Smith: Eli Manning couldn't have picked a more appropriate time to have such a superb game. The Giants hadn't seen this version of Manning in six weeks.
Johnny Damon's future with the Yankees has been a hot topic, but he isn't expecting a resolution to his situation any time soon.
Lawrence: Kevin Garnett isn't close to what he used to be, probably because he's still working his way back from last season's right knee injury.
Chris Douglas-Roberts said he is trying hard not to think about the possibility the Nets could soon tie the all-time mark for consecutive losses to start a season.
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