At least two things ended in Phoenix last night.
For sure, the Nets’ road trip and a 14-game drought in the desert did. Maybe calling Devin Harris an emerging star did, too. Harris might be a star, already.
The fifth-year point guard capped off an amazing trip with a career-best 47 points in the Nets’ 117-109 win over the Suns. Harris led the Nets to an incredible 3-1 West trip, which ended with him outplaying Deron Williams and Steve Nash on back-to-back nights.
Chew on these numbers: In the final two games, Harris was 27-of-42 from the field, 25-of-30 from the line, totaled 81 points and 14 assists.
If Harris doesn’t get named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, he was robbed, almost as badly as it seems the Mavericks were when they gave him up for Jason Kidd.
Harris made all the big plays, including one that didn’t seem that big, but turned out to be.
He got under Amare Stoudemire’s skin by slapping the ball away from him after he was fouled. Stoudemire took exception. And when Trenton Hassell came over to defend Harris, Stoudemire got into it with him and ultimately drew a technical.
Late in the fourth, Stoudemire, who was having a terrific game, was whistled for his second technical and was ejected with 3:24 left. The score was 100-98 at the time. The Nets then went on a 12-2 run and led 110-102 with 39 seconds left. Harris had seven points in that run.
Nash had a strong game, finishing with 26 points and nine assists, but paled in comparison to the player who replaced him Dallas.
In the fourth, Harris scored 21 points – just three fewer than the Suns. For the game he was 14-of-25 from the field and 17-of-17 from the line and had eight assists.
“He was phenomenal — just willing us,” Lawrence Frank said after winning his 200th career game as the Nets head coach. “It was a heck of a win and our guys should be proud of the trip we had. We just have to continue to build.”
The numbers only tell part of the story in the Nets’ seventh win in nine games, but they’re important.
Chuck Daly was the coach the last time the Nets won in Phoenix — March 13, 1993. This is only the third time the Nets have had a winning Thanksgiving trip. The last time was last year when they went 3-1.
That was impressive as the Nets were a team in turmoil. The trip started with Kidd accusing the Nets of “mentally letting go of the rope.”
This was more impressive because few expected the Nets to win more th an one game on this trip. But they have a point guard now who wants to be here and a shooting guard in Vince Carter (28 points) that is healthy and has led the team perfectly and a group of hungry young players and veterans.
Last year’s Nets were at the end of their rope. This team is just starting to show what they can do and they’re getting better each game.
As we said earlier, the numbers tell part of the story. Belief and heart tell the other part because they Nets are playing with both and you’re seeing what happens.
This was a back-to-back, after all. The Nets didn’t look tired or like they wanted to go home.
They were down 11 heading into the fourth and they didn’t fold. And the Nets were undermanned with Keyon Dooling unable to play and Jarvis Hayes’ shoulder bothering him. Harris played 41 minutes and Carter saw 39 minutes of action.
At 9-7, the Nets are the surprise team in the NBA this season. Now it’s about continuing what they’re doing when they go home, where they haven’t played as well.
They come home and have two games they should win — against the Wizards and then Minnesota before going to Philadelphia, which is struggling. We’re talking about games the Nets should win now. But we should be after this trip.