As he toed the free-throw line with 3:51 to go, down 89-81 against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, Spencer Dinwiddie had a grand total of two points.
Dinwiddie, who had averaged 17.1 points and 6.0 assists in the previous seven games leading up to Wednesday night, drained both, slicing the deficit to six.
Half a minute later, Dinwiddie, with an opportunity to bring the Nets within four, revisited the foul line in the same exact scenario.
He missed both, and although he somewhat redeemed himself with two lay-ups and a made free throw in the subsequent minute, it still left the Nets down by three.
Dinwiddie put the blame on himself postgame, despite finishing with nine points, seven of which came in those final few minutes, and a career-high 13 assists and no turnovers. In his mind, the misses, and the loss, overshadowed his late resurgence. He wound up shooting 3-of-13 from the floor, 0-of-5 for three and 3-of-5 on free throws.
Dinwiddie didn’t mince words.
“For the past three games I’ve been broke,” he said candidly after the loss, the Nets’ sixth in seven games. “Washington and the Spurs game, obviously I left too many points on the board for us to get those wins. For us to be a good team I can’t play in that fashion. I have to make more shots. Is it something that people are doing? Not really. I just missed. I mean, quite frankly, it’s not like I really feel like anybody can stop me. I just got to make shots.
“I have to be better for our team to get wins,” he continued. “I can’t be out there shooting – I don’t know whatever it is 20-something percent. Especially in those close games it hurts because one shot here or there swings things and me leaving three, four, five shots on the board, it hurts, so I have to apologize to my teammates on that.”
And then, it dawned on him that, yeah, he missed those two free throws late in the game, a situation where he’s succeeded and failed late this season.
“Yeah I smoked those two. You can put them on there as well, those are two more points I gave up. Add that to the total,” he said. “Like I said, I apologize to my teammates. I have to be better. We did enough to be close in the game and I left multiple shots and opportunities on the board so, sorry about that.”
And although, you know, it’s the Spurs ... only lost by five … maybe this constitutes as a … moral victory!?
Nah, Dinwiddie is having none of that either.
“I understand we’re knocking on the door and that we’re improving and playing well against elite teams and all that stuff, but none of our guys are satisfied,” he said. “We’re all frustrated – we want to be better, we’re going to be better, and we just have to learn and start to put things together so we could actually get wins and not just be close.”
Before the game, Kenny Atkinson talked about his point guard’s recent struggles.
“I think he’s in a good place. I think he’s getting better,” said Atkinson ahead of the Nets’ contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. “This is a tough league. We’ve been leaning on him a lot. I think sometimes what we do have to realize is that (for) Spencer, this is the first time he’s been in this position.
“This isn’t John Wall in his fifth year in the league playing 30 minutes a game,” Atkinson continued. “This is his first go at playing these kind of minutes. We’ve got guys that are in new roles and it’s a challenge. The biggest challenge for young players in this league is consistency. That’s why the great players in this league, that’s what they do, they do it night in and night out. Spencer is doing it on a majority of nights, there’s been a couple of down games, but we still think he’s playing great and has had a really good season so far.”
And although Gregg Popovich said, “I don’t watch Dinwiddie tape all day,” he likes what he’s seen about the 24-year-old, comparing him to some of the young Spurs players his staff has developed.
“I’m happy for the kid,” said Pop. “We’ve had guys that have gone on, Jon Simmons and Cory Joseph, Bryn Forbes has been on our D-League team the last couple of years and now he’s getting a chance to play, to fill those minutes.”
So it can’t be that bad.
- Spencer Dinwiddie apologizes to the Nets after struggling again - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- With Dinwiddie In A Funk, Nets Desperately Need Russell Back - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN