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SPENCER DINWIDDIE HITS GAME-WINNER TO SEAL FOURTH STRAIGHT, 108-106

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Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

For clarification purposes, the Brooklyn Nets are playing their best basketball of the young season, and they haven’t needed Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Kevin Durant to make it possible.

On Monday, they just needed to give the ball to their best player in the final moments, the Eastern Conference Player of the month: Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Nets let a nine-point lead slip away in the final minutes of the game. Cleveland went on a 9-0 run and had possession after grabbing two offensive rebounds in the final 21 seconds — the second coming off a missed free throw that kept the teams tied at 106 apiece.

Jarrett Allen made up for his missed box out and came up with a huge swat with nine seconds left, eventually leading to a shot clock violation with six seconds left: Nets ball.

It was an isolation for Dinwiddie with Allen disrupting the play with two screens to free him up a bit. Dinwiddie went left, crossed over right and nailed a fade away mid-ranger jumper to win the game, 108-106. Their fourth straight victory and a 5-1 record since Kyrie Irving went down.

And of course, the water shower continues!

Dinwiddie finished the night with 23 points, nine assists, three blocks and just one turnover. It was his sixth consecutive game with 20+ points. After the game, an emotional Dinwiddie dedicate the whole day — Player of the Week and the game-winner, to his father.

“It was my dads birthday, the player of the week stuff, the game winner, that’s on my dad,” Dinwiddie told Michael Grady after the game. “He’s the most important person in my life, besides my son. He’s been there and believed in me every step of the way.”

This came moments after Dinwiddie told Grady that he has one of the best rebounders in the game down low, alluding to Allen who was standing right next to him. He mentioned how the play was designed for him to take his man and give just enough time for Allen to execute a tip-in if he missed.

The confidence the two have shown together is what’s gotten the Nets through this. And for Dinwiddie, he had every right to trust Allen.

The 21-year-old finished with his second career 20/20 game with 22 points, 21 rebounds and two blocked shots on 9-of-10 shooting. He hasn’t missed more than three shots in a game since October 8 (10 games). Allen is playing the best basketball of his career, and it’s right there alongside with Dinwiddie.

“Oh man, they just keep getting better,” said Kenny Atkinson, summing up the game. “They got better as the game went on too, got stronger. Jarrett Allen is playing fantastic. The rebounds are a pleasant surprise; but his overall game — even catching it in the half-roll and a couple nice passes. We just did a great job getting to the rim tonight. I think 60 points in the paint. Great job driving the ball.

“Spencer was at the rim all night. Wish he would have had a few more free throws, but that’s how it goes. Our process was right. We got rewarded for sticking with our principles.”

It felt like nothing was happening through the first three quarters. Neither team distanced themselves by a bigger margin than five. The Nets, playing in the second game of a back-to-back, were tired and needed to find a way to fight through.

In came Allen with the necessary energy they needed,

Brooklyn squandered an eight-point lead and the Cavs made their run, regaining a very fringe lead. That’s when Dzanan Musa led the Nets on a 7-0 run and a six-point lead. The importance of this? It kept the Nets afloat while giving Dinwiddie, Allen and Harris a breather.

With the Cavs down just three, Allen came in and immediately grabbed an offensive board finished off with a mean slam. It was his night in a nutshell. Joe Harris, Allen, Dinwiddie and finally Taurean Prince strung together a 9-2 run, capped off by beautiful offensive sequence that led to a Prince three-pointer; a nine-point lead with 2:10 remaining.

The Cavaliers didn’t go away. Jordan Clarkson led the charge on a 9-0 run in the final two minutes, scoring 16 of his 24 points in the quarter.

They slowed the game down. There were four official reviews, and the Cavs grabbed two offensive rebounds in the final 21 seconds. Fortunately for the Nets, the Cavs only scored one point at the free throw line on the several opportunities they had. They simply didn’t make the Nets pay like most teams have this season.

Brooklyn’s offense has been in control with Dinwiddie running the point. They turned the ball over just nine times while dishing out 29 assists on 44 made field goals. Prince was fantastic yet again, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists on 7-of-14 shooting.

So, for clarification purposes, the Nets are 9-8 on the season, winners of four straight and five of the last six. They’ve found the identity they had all last season — the next man up, blue-collar team basketball embedded by Kenny Atkinson.

And Spencer Dinwiddie has been at the forefront of it all.

They’ll look to keep the streak alive with a game at Boston on Wednesday. No Kyrie.

A SERIES OF STATISTICAL MILESTONES

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Three years ago this week, Sean Marks personally scouted Spencer Dinwiddie when his Windy City Bulls beat the Long Island Nets at Barclays Center. Dinwiddie went for 25 and 12 in that game.

A week later, the Nets dumped Yogi Ferrell and signed Dinwiddie.

TRISTAN THOMPSON CALLS KYRIE IRVING A ‘GREAT TEAMMATE’

Kyrie Irving wasn’t around to hear it but before Monday’s game, his former teammate Tristan Thompson spoke kindly about him to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer...

“See that banner right there? That’s what he means to the franchise, Being No. 1 pick, came in with a lot of expectations and he surpassed them all. Being an All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, World Championship gold medalist, Olympic gold medalist, made a crucial step-back from the right wing in Game 7, Rookie of the Year, it’s a lot...

“My brother. Great teammate,. At the end of the day, if I’m going to go to war, need a dog, an MF that can go and hoop I’m definitely going to put him on my team. I mean, the chatter is for you guys to talk about. Teams lose a couple of games and they say the same things about us — what’s going on and blah blah blah. It’s just chatter. At the end of the day, when that untucked Kyrie jersey is out everyone is scared.”

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE KNICKS-RJ THING...

The New York Knicks released a statement about Richard Jefferson following his on-air joke, saying how he retired rather than signing with the Knicks. It’s like their ego was hurt or something. Whatever.

Read more about it here.

From my end, this was all poetic in a weird, but extremely fitting night between the Knicks and the Nets. The two teams have been jarring for relevance since the Nets moved to Brooklyn and after seven seasons, the Nets beat the Knicks in their own game. No, not a championship, rather landing big-name free agents over the summer.

The battle between RJ and the Nets looks like a product of a former long-time Net trolled the Knicks on television. This doesn’t happen often. It was a hit to their ego while they’re at their lowest. Releasing a statement, way after the fact, about literally nothing. A joke.

Here’s the timeline from my end

RJ’s stories get back cackling from time to time. He’s candid — and he has a real sense of humor. He makes you feel like you’re right in there with the story... every broadcaster’s main objective.

I tweeted this at 6:26. I’m not saying RJ saw my tweet and went on his rant, but from my end it sure felt like it.

Precisely 20 minutes later, RJ kicked into gear and told a funny story about the Knicks.

Joking? That’s what he said not long after.

Finally, on Monday, the Knicks decided to put out a statement. Boy did they make one.

Everybody else had fun with it, including LeBron James.

View this post on Instagram

People are out of control!!

A post shared by Richard Jefferson (@richardajefferson) on

It started with a joke from one person... and the other side ended up looking like one.

WERE THEY TRIGGERED?

Maybe! The “little brother” team is trolling the “bigger brother” team. So are their stars. That isn’t something that happens often — if ever for the Nets.

Who cares? We do. It’s all fun.

For a wholly different perspective, head on over to Fear The Sword, our Cavs sister site on SB Nation.

___

Next up: @ Boston on Wednesday.