EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Vince Carter is the Net with the greatest flair for the dramatic, but Devin Harris is showing he can play that game.
The Nets’ All-Star guard hit one of the most incredible shots to win an NBA game on Monday. Not only did it end a five-game Nets’ losing streak, it also gave Harris two buzzer-beating game-winners this season, tying him with Carter.
Here are those four, ranked in order by magnitude and degree of difficulty.
1. Harris’ heave
Feb. 23, 2009: Nets 98, Sixers 96
This game was over, or at least it appeared to be. The Nets were headed for their sixth straight loss and the effect could have been devastating for their playoff hopes considering how hard they fought to get back in the game.
But as Carter said, “the stars were aligned.” They had to be for Harris to hit the shot he hit.
Down 96-95 with no timeouts and 1.8 seconds left, Bobby Simmons threw the inbounds pass to Harris, who raced to midcourt, lost it, saw it bounce off Andre Iguodala, caught it and heaved it from the left sideline. Swish.
That was as head shaking a basket as you will see.
“It was a wild shot,” Harris said.
There seemed no way all that could have happened in 1.8 seconds. No one believed it but the Nets’ faithful.
Official Violet Palmer originally waved it off. But the refs huddled, watched replays for about two minutes and 30 seconds and said Harris did all of that – raced to midcourt, lost the ball, caught it and in one motion heaved it in under 1.8 seconds.
That took amazing speed and strength for Harris to do that.
Ironic that it was Derrick Stafford who raised his hands and signaled the shot was good. (See No. 3).
2. Carter slams Toronto
Nov. 21, 2008: Nets 129, Raptors 127 (OT)
The Toronto fans blistered Carter to no end and Carter shut them up seemingly with each stroke of his wrist. But on the last play, it was Carter’s legs and a perfectly placed pass by Simmons that sent Toronto fans home even angrier.
First, the Nets had to come back from 18 down and needed a Carter three from straight away as the horn sounded in regulation to force overtime. Simmons fed that one, too.
Carter wasn’t done.
In the OT, after Anthony Parker hit a game-tying three on a defensive breakdown, Simmons threw a side out-of-bounds pass at the rim, where Carter jumped, caught it, and threw it down with his back to the basket.
You never see games end with a back-to-the-basket, reverse alley-oop dunk.
Jan. 2, 2009: Nets 93, Hawks 91 (OT)
That morning, the league ruled on the Stafford-Carter dust up from New Year’s Eve in Detroit when Carter became irate because Stafford called him boy. Later that night, Carter shook off a bad shooting performance and a missed shot in regulation to bury a 33-foot shot at the buzzer to lift the Nets to the win.
“I just wanted to go back out and play,” Carter said, “get all that [garbage] of the last game out of the way and go play basketball.”
The Nets came back from 20 down and did it with coach Lawrence Frank in his office watching the game with general manager Kiki Vandeweghe. Frank was ejected on purpose and his team made sure it wasn’t in vain. They also were without Harris late. He left the game with a hamstring injury.
This also appeared to be a game the Nets would lose. Jarvis Hayes’ inbounds pass was deflected and Carter chased it down in the backcourt. Josh Smith gave Carter too much room and he made him pay.
“That’s the worst, best shot I’ve seen in my life,” Harris said.
“Only Vince Carter does that,” Frank said.
4. Harris’ Happy Holiday
Dec. 23, 2008: Nets 108, Pacers 107
The Nets were embarrassed the night before by Houston and looked to be headed for their third straight loss to the Pacers, especially after Danny Granger’s jumper from the foul line with 10 seconds left.
But Harris had the answer on a night when Carter scored 38 points.
Everyone probably figured it was going to Carter, but the play was designed for Harris all along. Harris shook Jarrett Jack with a crossover and canned the 22-footer as time expired.
“It was great for him to hit the game-winner,” Carter said. “I told him ‘this is your first one, so welcome.”‘
Harris definitely is a member of the club now.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).