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Spencer Dinwiddie drops 30 as Nets take down Knicks without Kyrie Irving, 103-101

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Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

For the Nets, it would’ve been more fun winning at Madison Square Garden flaunting their grand prizes from the summer in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They didn’t need either to get the victory Sunday, though.

Playing without the two superstars the Knicks missed out on this summer — as well as young star in Caris LeVert — the Nets won their third straight game and fourth in the last five, 103-101, against the now 4-13 Knicks. The Nets are now 8-8, reaching .500 for the first time since they beat the Knicks in the second game of the season back on October 25.

“Heck of a tight game,” Kenny Atkinson said. “Our guys executed in the end.”

Spencer Dinwiddie was the leader yet again, dropping 30 points in 35 minutes — his fifth straight game with 20+ points. The Nets are 4-1 since Irving went down, and Dinwiddie has been at the forefront of it all.

The Nets juggled double digit leads with razor-thin margins all night. It’s been a theme of the young season. They’ll go through lapses after building enough momentum to run away with it. On Sunday, Brooklyn ran up an 11-point lead with 7:11 left, a run that was capped off with a Joe Harris three-pointer.

Then the Knicks came storming back, as they did all night when they were down big. They answered with a 7-0 run and trailed 91-87 with less than five minutes left.

Luckily for the Nets, in “clutch” situations this season (in the last five minutes of a game with the point differential at five or less), Brooklyn owns a league-best +34, ahead of the Lakers (+24), Boston (+22) and Milwaukee (+21), entering Sunday night.

The Nets and Knicks went back and forth before Marcus Morris caught fire... again. Morris nailed two straight three-pointers to notch seven on the night, followed up by another three from Wayne Ellington.

Morris finished with 26 points and missed just one three-pointer on eight attempts. But it wasn’t enough.

Joe Harris (4-of-13) didn’t have his best shooting night, but he came up big with a gritty drive to the hole, giving Brooklyn a 100-97 lead. On the ensuing Knicks’ possession, they went for a fourth straight three-pointer — a wide-open corner three for Frank Ntilikina.

No good, and the Nets ended up sealing the deal at the line following a phenomenal defensive stand against Morris. The Knicks made it closer than expected, but the Nets never wavered. As a matter of fact, it ended in a very fitting way...

Jarrett Allen is playing some of the best basketball of his young career. The 21-year-old dominated the Knicks with 18 points and 10 rebounds — his sixth double double of the season. He also contained Mitchell Robinson to just six points in 19 minutes before he fouled out ... and was called for a technical foul.

As a whole, the Nets nailed 14 three-pointers and hit 40 percent of their shots, while turning the ball over just 11 times. On the other hand, their perimeter defense wasn’t as solid as it was on Friday vs. Sacramento. The Knicks nailed 18-of-35 from deep which kept them around throughout the night.

The Knicks played the second night of a back-to-back without rookie phenom, RJ Barrett. Sure, four of the last five games have been against sub-.500 teams, but up until Sunday, the Nets were a sub-.500 team, too. They need to continue to find ways to grind out these victories, yes, behind the lead of guys like Dinwiddie and Allen, but also anchored by guys like Taurean Prince and Garrett Temple.

The bench didn’t do much — just 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting, but others stepped up. The next-man up mentality kicked in once again, with Brooklyn getting back to ”Kenny ball.” The ball doesn’t stick as much and the quality of looks from deep are much better. Dinwiddie may have to take the brunt of the scoring load, but everybody else follows the offensive principles which sets them up for success.

Take Temple, who scored 12 points — all from the three-point line. He’s becoming the 3-and-D guy the Nets had hoped for. You can even look at Prince, who scored seven of nine points in the midst of a 9-0 run to help give Brooklyn an 11-point lead in the second quarter. He finished the night with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. It was his fourth double-double of the young season. He had five in his first 193 games with the Hawks.

Every win the Nets get needs to be a gritty one. With Kyrie out, with Caris LeVert out, with KD out; it really doesn’t matter how they get the win. They’ll look to capitalize against below-average teams with a game against Cleveland tomorrow. Until they’re whole again.

And then there was this...

Cold. C-O-L-D.

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RJ WITH THE SHADE!

We always enjoy a good story from Richard Jefferson, especially when it’s about the Knicks. Sunday’s story was particularly hilarious, with RJ saying he’d rather retire than play for the Knicks.

For context...

LAST DANCE

With a two point lead and 0.4 seconds left, the Nets looked like they had the game locked, but with just the slimmest of chances for a Knicks victory, their fans were screaming for an upset.

Then Spencer Dinwiddie had an idea...

Game over.

Post-game, Dinwiddie didn’t want to talk about his role in talking to Michael Grady.

“If I tell you I gotta kill you, man.”

GARDEN TAKEOVER

The Brooklyn Brigade did their thing, hopped on the subway and made their presence felt on the road. As Ian Begley notes, 47 Nets fans attended together.

NETS TIDBITS

  • Jarrett Allen leads the league in field goal percentage (66.7 percent). Allen is also tied for 13th in the league in total blocks (21) and is sixth in total dunks (38).
  • DeAndre Jordan is sixth in the league in rebound percentage (19.4) and eighth in defensive rebound percentage (28 percent). Jordan also leads all NBA reserves in rebounds per game (8.5) through 11 games off the bench this season.
  • Joe Harris is 21st in the league in 3-point percentage (44.8 percent), but he’s second among players with 85+ three-point field goal attempts, trailing only JJ Redick (47.5 percent).
  • The Nets are now one game behind the Knicks in their all-time NBA series. The Knicks have 99 wins, the Nets 98. (Of course if you add the three ABA-NBA exhibition games prior to the leagues’ merger, the Nets are ahead 101-99. Just sayin’.)

For a different perspective on the game, head on over to Posting and Toasting, our Knicks sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday at 7:30 PM ET.