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Nets dominate Embiid-less 76ers, 109-89

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Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Spencer Dinwiddie is a man on a mission and legitimate All-Star candidate, and he dunked on all of Philadelphia and Long Island on Sunday. All points in between, too.

Sorry, Tobias Harris.

Behind Dinwiddie’s 24 points and six assists, the Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-89, Sunday evening at Barclays Center. They never trailed after the 5:56 mark of the first quarter, improving to 14-12 on the season and 10-5 since Kyrie Irving has been out. The win also ended Philly’s five-game winning streak.

The Nets didn’t play their usual style of ball — as in hoisting up a bunch of three’s (they attempted 46 in Saturday’s loss against Toronto.). Their season-low before tonight’s 24 attempts? 28 against Denver. So, with Joel Embiid out, they attacked the paint at will, scoring 64 points in the painted area.

“I felt it in our little walk through — I don’t think any of us were very pleased with our performance last night,” said Kenny Atkinson said of the Toronto loss. “Sometimes you just feel a tension. I felt like they were ready. One of our best defensive performances since I’ve been here.”

It wasn’t quite a wire-to-wire victory, but it was close enough...

They took control of this game in the second quarter behind a concerted effort from the bench — namely Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and David Nwaba, who provided a much-needed spark on both ends of the ball.

Then, Dinwiddie took matters into his own hands, leading the Nets on an 8-2 charge to finish out the half and a 14-point lead. This later trickled into the third quarter, following Dinwiddie’s monster dunk over Harris, the Nets went on a 10-0 run to take an 18-point lead.

Dinwiddie spoke about the dunk ... and the win in the locker room post game...

His teammates did too.

“Spencer’s probably the most athletic guy in the NBA who doesn’t use his athleticism, so we give him a lot of grief for not dunking the ball enough,” said Joe Harris.

The key factor was, as Atkinson noted, the defense, which forced Philly to miss nine straight shots during that span, holding them to 66 points — the fewest they’ve allowed through three quarters this season. Their final tally of 89 points was also the lowest of the season.

Philly never made anything happen in the fourth, and Brooklyn was smooth sailing through the rest of the night. Appropriately, Dinwiddie put this one away with a three-pointer to put Brooklyn up 23 with 6:27 left in the game.

It was the 13th time in the last 15 game which Dinwiddie has scored 20 or more points.

“He’s aggressive. He’s talented. He gets downhills, loves downhill. He just plays, plays with that freedom. I love the way he plays, but he dominates,” said Ben Simmons after the game.

With Embiid out, the 76ers simply didn’t have the firepower to stick with Brooklyn. Embiid has bullied the Nets in the past and Simmons scored 20 points, but few others stepped up.

Philly shot 43 percent from the field, 19 percent from three and turned the ball over 16 times for 21 Brooklyn points. The Nets shot 48 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three, out-scoring Philly’s bench by 17.

The Nets have only taken less than 20 3-pointers under Kenny... once. They attempted 24 on Sunday. The game plan is to take a ton of three’s, but instead they adjusted to Philly’s weaknesses (no paint presence) and took advantage. This was domination from start to finish.

Dinwiddie finished the game with 24 points, the fourth consecutive game he’s recorded 24 points. Only Magic Johnson had done that before.

After a hard-fought battle in Toronto less than 24 hours ago, I’d say this is a good testament as to how tough this Nets team can be, without Kyrie, without Caris and without Kevin Durant.

And certainly a testament to how good of a coach Kenny Atkinson has been.

WILSON CHANDLER MAKES DEBUT

Wilson Chandler was back after serving a 25-game game suspension for PED use. He played 18 minutes and finished with two points and seven rebounds. He scored his first bucket of the year with 45 seconds left in the first.

Kenny Atkinson spoke about Chandler’s game —and journey— after the win.

“I’m just thrilled for him that he’s [back],” Atkinson said. “We supported him. He owned up to a mistake. I knew this day was going to come. It’s going to help the Nets, help him. I keep saying this, I really have a good grip on who he is as a player and that helps you as a coach. I think I understand how to use him. Great guy, so he’s going to help us.”

NEXT UP: TIMOTHE LUWAWU-CABARROT?

The Nets, as everyone knows, have a great reputation for developing young players, particularly those that others have waived, traded, otherwise dumped. Spencer Dinwiddie was in the G League when the Nets discovered him. Joe Harris was recovering from ankle surgery after having been traded, cut and gone under the knife in a single day.

Is Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot the next on the list? Yes, of course, it’s early, much too early, to suggest that TLC will follow the example of his two teammates, but after the 24-year-old averaged 20 points a game for Long Island as a two-way, Luwawu-Cabarrot is part of the Nets rotation at least for now. In the loss to the Raptors and the win over the Sixers, TLC has played 40 minutes, scored 15 points, shot 50 percent and grabbed six board safter playing just six minutes through the first 24 games of the season.. He’s essentially taken Iman Shumpert’s minutes at the 2.

Luwawu-Cabarrot has played 175 NBA games since he was drafted by the Sixers in 2016, four spots after Caris LeVert (who’s played 177 games so far.) He’s played for the 76ers, the Bulls and Thunder and was cut by the Cavs in training camp. Those in his corner think that he just needs a chance ... much like Dinwiddie and Harris.

“He’s been a pleasant surprise these past two games,” Atkinson said.

Like we said, it’s much too early to tell, but it will be fun to watch. Again.

JOE TSAI COURTSIDE

During his nine years as Nets owner, Mikhail Prokhorov never sat courtside, preferring the comforts —and no doubt privacy— of the ONEXIM double suite at half court. Joe Tsai has taken over the suite, but when he’s in town, like he was Sunday, he’s usually sitting next to the Nets bench often with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai, and, school schedules permitting, their children. Wu Tsai also often attends on her own.

With Tsai Sunday was Oliver Weisberg, the Nets acting CEO, and a newly minted Nets fan.

Chieng grew up in Melbourne, Australia where the Nets directors of sports science and sports medicine along with their physical development coach Daniel Jones all worked before joining the Nets.

UPDATE ON KYRIE, CARIS ... OR NOT

For a different perspective, head on over to Liberty Ballers, our Sixers sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Tuesday at New Orleans, 8:00 PM ET.