James Harden and Steve Nash were named the Eastern Conference Player and Coach of the Month respectively for February. It marked only the fourth time the Nets had ever swept the categories, and the first since 2007.
The others Nets duos to sweep the awards were Lawrence Frank and Vince Carter in April 2007 — the last time any Net player won the award — Frank and Kenyon Martin (February 2004), and Byron Scott and Jason Kidd (December 2002).
Considering both the megatrade for Harden in January and signing of the unproven Nash in the offseason were each considered gambles in its own way, it was validation for both decisions. General manager Sean Marks noted how he could see Nash’s growth as a coach in his first year on the job.
“A lot of improvement,” Marks said on YES Network. “And I think he’d be the first to say I have a long way to go. We talk very regularly about where can he get better, what can we do to help each other and so forth. But I’ve been thrilled.”
Nash is the fifth Nets coach to earn the award, and the first since Kidd in March 2014. He led Brooklyn to an Eastern Conference-best 9-4 record last month, and conference-best 5-2 road mark. And Nash did it with Kevin Durant missing 12 games, already ruled out for Wednesday’s tilt at Houston.
While Harden and Mike D’Antoni will get their respective returns to face the Rockets, it seems Jeff Green may not. Green spent the latter stages of last season in Houston playing under D’Antoni, but he’s doubtful to play Wednesday with a right shoulder contusion.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is also doubtful with right knee soreness. Durant will miss his ninth straight game with a left hamstring strain.
Rookie forward Reggie Perry is out on G-League assignment, but with Long Island officially eliminated from playoff contention, it bears watching what the Nets do when they return from the All-Star break on March 11, especially with Nic Claxton emerging so quickly.
Claxton enters Wednesday coming off a career-high 17 points in 17 minutes against San Antonio. He shot 7 of 9 from the floor, had three blocks and shook off not only having his left ankle rolled on but a shot to the face.
“The game, it’s slowing down. My first game especially, everything was … I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But I had to slow down and just have fun,” Claxton said. “I love the game of basketball, so that’s what I told myself. I’ve just got to go out there and have fun and that’s what I’ve been doing these past few games.You see the results and I look forward to continuing to build.”
Nets and Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai was named a “Champion of Justice” by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The wife of Nets owner Joe Tsai, she was honored for her role in helping create and fund the REFORM Alliance — aiming to reform the criminal justice system — and establishing a $50 million Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.