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DETROIT — The Nets have two of the NBA’s three most accurate active 3-point shooters in Seth Curry and Joe Harris. But it’s their teammate Yuta Watanabe who has become the king of the corner 3.

After his 17-point game on Friday, which included going 3-for-4 from deep, Watanabe is shooting 53.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc. The Japanese forward will enter Sunday’s game in Detroit shooting 19-for-26 (.731) from the corner, which looks like a misprint but is actually a perfect complement to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

“Everything, everything is easier for me because I think all the angles I prepared [Friday] I was just standing there,” Watanabe said. “As if I wasn’t moving, I couldn’t find a place. As soon as we get the ball, I just run to the corner, wait, wait, wait and then they give me great passes. So I’m just happy to have them as my teammates.

“Because we have so many guys that can create individually, it’s not my job, so I can stay in the corner. [Defenders] know I’m a good shooter so they’re not going to leave me and that creates space for them. If they don’t leave, they can just attack. If they let me, I’m open. Just shoot! Simple. Simple basketball.”

Yuta Watanabe has been deadly from corners.
Getty Images

Irving hit the game-winning 3-pointer Friday, his first literal NBA game. But he hasn’t been as sharp from the outside lately, going 13 for 40 over the past five games.

“I took my time, got my balance under me, which is what I want to work on from today, just getting my balance under me on the 3,” Irving said. “I haven’t been hitting the 3 ball as much as I would have liked this season, so I’m just trying to keep improving every game.”

Where did he get that advice? From his father, Drederick Irving.

With 26,394 points, Kevin Durant is one behind John Havlicek for 17th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and three behind Paul Pierce for 16th. He is also 102 shy of Tim Duncan for 15th.

Durant has humorously backtracked on a silly comment he made in 2019 about ending his career at Spanish EuroLeague powerhouse Barcelona.

“Yeah, I was just excited at that time a few years ago. We were just champions [in 2017 and ’18]I was playing great, and I guess you think a little bit too much about the end when you’re at the pinnacle of being an NBA player and I said something crazy like that,” Durant said with a smile. He added that he has friends and respect in the Euroleague. “But I really doubt that will happen. Although it sounded good when I said it.”

Nick Claxton (15 points, 10 boards) had a career-high six blocks Friday.

As expected, Patty Mills (non-COVID illness) will be out against the Pistons, along with David Duke Jr., Kessler Edwards, DayRon Sharp and Alondes Williams, all with G-League Long Island.



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