After coming off the bench in his regular-season debut, longtime starter Joe Harris says he will help his team in whatever capacity they ask.
Harris played 18 minutes and shot one-of-three from the field in only his second bit of NBA action since Nov. 14, after which he underwent two surgeries on his ailing left ankle. He played in the Oct. 2 preseason opener before experiencing soreness in his left foot, then sat the remainder of the preseason and the regular-season opener.
In his absence, offseason acquisition Royce O’Neale has started. O’Neale appears to have earned the starting job for good and cemented that status by hitting the game-winner against the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
Harris said in the locker room he isn’t concerned with the role he has.
“However it is man,” he said after the game. “If I continue to play these minutes, this is what it will be. If I play more, I’m basically just going to do whatever I can to help the team: trying to do all the little stuff, knock down shots. And you know, just provide hopefully a little bit of glue just doing some of the dirty work and the stuff that’s really gonna help us win at the end of the day.”
He also added that “everything felt fine” and that his ankle didn’t inhibit his play on the court.
“I was definitely a little winded, lungs were burning,” he said. “But that’s to be expected and just keep building from there.”
The Nets missed Harris, who has led the NBA in three-point percentage twice in the last five seasons. They were severely shorthanded during the preseason and in the season-opener because Seth Curry is also out rehabbing after offseason ankle surgery.
Nets point guard Ben Simmons said he’s excited to get Harris back on the floor.
“I love Joe, man. I just know how he plays already, playing against him so often,” Simmons said. “Being on the other side of that now, it’s gonna be fun. Just getting that communication, going, that rhythm, so looking forward to playing with him.”
Nets star Kevin Durant credited Brooklyn’s fans for helping his team beat the Raptors on Friday.
“Since I’ve been here, Nets World’s been loud,” he said. “We get a bad rap for our fans saying we don’t got a lot, saying they don’t come to support us, but I feel like every game I played since I’ve been here has been loud and they’ve been cheering for the Nets.
Durant also offered an explanation as to why so many fans cheer for the opposing teams at Barclays Center.
“It’s also New York City,” he said. “So there’s other teams and other fanbases here as well, but we always hear Nets loud and clear, and we’re going to need that going forward.”
Simmons had his best game in a Nets jersey, finishing with six points, eight assists, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Nash has maintained Simmons must stay aggressive if this team is going to be successful.
“Just attack. That’s just me,” Simmons said. “It’s easy to say, but to go and do it, it’s tough, but that’s on me. Keep pushing myself.”