That might change after the way that Harris answered the bell at the finish of Friday night’s 103-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Trailing by six with 4 minutes, 26 seconds to go, coach Rick Carlisle went with Harris over starter Jose Calderon because he believed the Mavs needed the best possible defender and penetrator at point guard. Harris made his coach look smart, driving for two buckets down the stretch and contributing to Dallas' closeout shutout the rest of the game.
The Mavs took the lead for good when Harris ripped a defensive rebound away from Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, brought the ball up the left side of the floor and executed something Dirk Nowitzki called the “get the hell outta the way play” to perfection. With that side of the floor cleared out, Harris attacked Portland point guard Damian Lillard off the dribble, drew contact and banked in a 7-footer despite the foul with 24.2 seconds remaining.
“Harris’ three-point play was a huge play, as big a play as we’ve had all year,” Carlisle said.
The whole fourth quarter was huge for Harris, who had been in a 5-of-29 funk the previous five-plus games. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the final frame, including a 3-pointer that briefly gave the Mavs the lead with 7:15 remaining and two drives after he re-entered the game with Dallas down six.
Of course, Harris isn’t a typical backup. He’s a 10-year veteran with almost 500 starts under his belt, including playoffs.
“I’ve played this game a little bit, so obviously I’m comfortable in that situation,” Harris said. “Hopefully I can get some more time.”
Harris couldn’t have made a better case to close than he did in the late comeback against the Blazers.