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Jared Dudley once again proves why ‘little things’ matter

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Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Jared Dudley‘s line Friday night didn’t stand out when compared to his younger teammates. Four points, four rebounds and an assist in 24 minutes seems pedestrian, but what he actually did on the court —as well as before he took the court— mattered big time.

Dudley and Jarrett Allen share neighboring lockers. Dudley, 13 years older than Allen, is constantly in his ear before games discussing defensive tactics and what to expect from the opposing team. A tip here, some experience there.

You can hear the genuine care he takes, especially with Allen.

It’s one of the main reasons he’s a role player on a team filled with younger guys. His veteran leadership, basketball I.Q. and ability to stretch the floor are the three main factors ... as he again proved vs. the Nuggets.

That basketball I.Q. came into effect in the final moments of Brooklyn’s 112-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets. With the game tied at 110 with under 30 seconds remaining, Nikola Jokic had Jarrett Allen in an isolation situation near the left block.

Dudley’s man (Paul Millsap), slipped in the corner and Dudley cheated over with a double team, forcing Jokic to turn baseline and travel. The Nets got the ball with 22 seconds left and the rest is history.

“I mean, it wasn’t something that was determined,” Dudley said after the game. “Paul Millsap wasn’t shooting the ball that much and he was in the corner. Jokic was ‘Shaqin’ it all night, so my whole thing was to make him go baseline. He kept going over the middle and scoring with a hook shot. It was more of a read for me, I push Jarrett [Allen] into him a little bit.”

If he doesn’t make this decision, the Nets might not win this game. After all, Jokic had 37 points.

Kenny Atkinson said it was something they’ve worked on before. Dudley made the decision to do something different.

“Great call. Great call. Yeah, we call it ‘dig’ and he ‘digged’ off Millsap. That was a huge play,” Atkinson said of the play.

Dudley’s player-coach moments have come out, for good and for bad. Nobody’s perfect. One example came in the first game of the season. He was calling out Detroit’s plays before they could even make a move.

In contrast, you look at the infamous Pelicans game when the Nets unnecessarily turned the ball over in the final seconds. They were up by three on the possession before, and Dudley intentionally founded with a little over 20 seconds remaining. Atkinson later said it wasn’t part of the game plan.

Does Friday night make up for that? Nobody is perfect. But it certainly helps to have a veteran like him out there in crucial situations. Just ask Kenny Atkinson. After all, there are reasons why he’s starting... and finishing. Just watch the play above.