Joe Harris made his return to the court for the Nets on Friday in his first regular-season game since last Nov. 14.
“It’s great. It was just great to see him out there. He’s an important player for us,” coach Steve Nash said after the Nets’ 109-105 victory over the Raptors at Barclays Center. “The quicker we can get him back up to his best is important for our group. You know the characteristics he brings as a teammate, that elite shooting, the fight, the physicality he plays with is so important. Getting him out there and getting a game under his belt was really important, let alone giving us depth and ability.”
Harris missed most of last season following a left ankle injury that required two surgeries. After a 15-minute cameo in the preseason opener, he was sidelined by a sore left foot — until his comeback Friday.
The veteran forward had three points in 17:51. He shot 1-for-3, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range, and added two rebounds.
“Oh, yeah, it was amazing. The fun atmosphere, great team win. So I think it was a perfect, perfect game to come back,” said Harris, who added that his ankle held up fine.
“Yeah, everything felt great. I was definitely a little winded, the lungs were burning. But you know, that’s to be expected. And just keep building from here.”
Center Nic Claxton (19 points, Nets-high 11 rebounds, four blocks) has notched double-doubles in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
“Just more comfortable, more confident. Just trying to get back to young Clax. Just being myself,” Claxton said. “We need other guys to step up. We can’t have Kyrie [Irving] and KD [Kevin Durant] trying to do everything. Just playing my game and my teammates are doing a good job of instilling confidence in me.”
Claxton, who is still just 23 years old, got out in the open court and even finished a transition finger roll on a pass from Durant.
“They know [I can do it] now. A few guys know cause they saw me a couple of years ago when I was doing that more. It’s something I will continue to work on and I still have it. It felt good to bring it out today when I got in transition. … No one can stop me in the open court.”
Claxton even broke out a Euro step for a spectacular play. The Nets are encouraging him to just be consistent. That has been the biggest part of his growth, which his teammates want to see continue.
“I had simple advice for him tonight, if we’re not seeing you play like that, as hard, offensively and defensively, then we got to hold you accountable to that standard,” Irving said. “And he knew it.”