Nets’ Nic Claxton starting to show off improved shooting stroke

OKLAHOMA CITY — Nic Claxton had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Nets’ victory at Western Conference-leading Denver on Sunday, the first 20/5/5 performance of his young career.

But more auspicious than that was the baseline pull-up jumper he hit, and his perfect performance from the free throw line.

Claxton, who has struggled mightily at the charity stripe since being drafted by the Nets, went 4-for-4.

“Yeah and those four looked really good. Really good. So first of all commend him on that for being ready to step up and make free throws,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And then he’s continued to grow for us.”

Claxton is a career 53 percent shooter from the free throw line and ended January making just 47 percent.

Nets center Nic Claxton
Nic Claxton

But since the start of February, the young center has been a more respectable 66.1 percent from the stripe in his last 16 games going into Tuesday’s tilt against the Thunder.

Considering teams’ willingness to use Hack-A-Clax tactics earlier this season in close games, improvement at the line could prove noteworthy.

Both Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie both got consideration for Eastern Conference Player of the Week for March 6-12.

76ers center Joel Embiid eventually got the nod, with Chicago’s Zach LaVine and Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell also in the running.

Bridges’ ironman streak is still intact.

The 26-year-old wing has played in every regular season game in his career, totaling 378 straight, the longest active consecutive games played streak in the NBA.

Mikal Bridges
Mikal Bridges has played in every regular season game of his career.

He also hasn’t missed a playoff game, a collegiate game at Villanova or even a high school game since his junior season in high school.

Ben Simmons (left knee/back soreness) will miss his 11th consecutive game, and his 27th of the season.

Two-way players David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith are both out on G-League assignment.

Since the calendar flipped to 2023, Joe Harris has shot 47.8 percent (64-of-134) from 3-point range, the second-best in the league since the start of the New Year (minimum 100 attempts), trailing only Clippers star Kawhi Leonard at 49.2 percent.

Joe Harris
Joe Harris has bene red-hot in 2023.

Harris’ red-hot 58.3 percent this month is fourth-best in the league, behind only Al Horford, Joe Ingles and Tim Hardaway Jr. among players with at least 20 attempts.

Dorian Finney-Smith had 15 points on 5 of 7 from 3-point range and a career-high-tying four steals in 38 minutes at Denver.

In his last two games, the power forward has averaged 13.0 points on 7 of 12 from deep.

The Nets’ game on March 25 in Miami has been dropped by NBA TV, as has New Orleans at the Clippers. The league-leading Bucks at West-leading Nuggets will now be televised by NBA TV.