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Not Yogi-Mania, but Dinwiddie starting to show potential

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

If the Nets had won the other night vs. Milwaukee, the two heroes of the battle would have been Brook Lopez, who scored 36 points, blocked eight shots and hit six three pointers ... and Spence Dinwiddie, who led the fourth quarter comeback showing off a variety of offensive moves and shots in scoring 19 points. Not to mention his eight assists ... without a turnover, five rebounds and two steals. Of his 19 points, 16 came in the fourth.

If you missed it, here’s some highlights from Down to Buck.

Lopez’s heroics are to be expected but Dinwiddie has been the bane of Nets fans. He started slow and was called up to replace Yogi Ferrell who went on to Long Island, Dallas and Yogi-Mania. But in the past two to three weeks, Dinwiddie has started to show the potential the Nets saw in him when they grabbed him off the Windy City Bulls roster in early December.

Over the past 15 games, Dinwiddie has averaged 21 minutes a game, first coming off the bench and now as a starter in place of Jeremy Lin. He’s put up 8.9 points, 3.2 assists, 0.7 turnovers and shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from deep. In his last two starts, following a goose egg the game before that, the 6’6” Colorado product has scored 19 and 17 and shot 12-of-20 (60 percent) overall and 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from deep. He’s handed out nine assists without a turnover.

Beyond the stats, Dinwiddie has shown a growing confidence that is starting to add to his consistency. In that 15-game stretch we noted, he had two games where he did not score. Whether because of that inconsistency or because the Nets gave up on Ferrell to sign him, he was not a fan favorite, although that changed a bit on Wednesday when he literally took over the game in the fourth, a total revelation.

Dinwiddie, a month older than Ferrell, has had a hard time making it this far. In 2014, his junior year at Colorado, with his team 14-2, he blew out his knee. His season —and the Buffaloes— came to an abrupt end and his plans for the NBA Draft started to fade. After being unable to participate in the Pre-Draft camp, he had to wait until the second round, at No. 38, to get the call, from the Pistons.

ACL injuries being what they are, it took a while for Dinwiddie to recover. He showed some sparks, but after his rookie year, spent mostly at Grand Rapids, the Pistons traded him to Chicago, where there was a surfeit of guards and he was waived and assigned to Windy City. He played well enough there —19.4 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 37.4 minutes— to warrant the Nets’ interest. He also improved his three point shooting.

Dinwiddie is unlikely to be a star in this league ... and despite his solid play of late, he still gets mentioned negatively in comparison to Ferrell. So be it. He does look like he can be a good rotation player and his contract, a vets minimum deal with a team option give the Nets all the leverage if he keeps improving.

Development in the NBA is often two steps forward, one step back, not something fans want to know. They want to see a rising star, no hesitation, no setbacks. The Nets, however, are a bit more patient. Not tied up in Yogi-Mania. They like Dinwiddie. They like tall guards. They took two guards — 6’7” and 6’5” — in the Draft, both of whom had experience playing the point.

Of course, we aren’t likely to see much of him starting on February 24. Jeremy Lin will be back, starting, trying to get something out of this injury-plagued misery of a season. Still, based on his recent body of work, the Nets have to feel comfortable with Dinwiddie.