Three years to the day, the Brooklyn Nets plucked Spencer Dinwiddie out of the G League and signed him to a contract. Today, he hit the go-ahead bucket to give the Nets a victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Brooklyn faced it’s one of its biggest test on Sunday. They’ve re-established their identity from years past under Kenny Atkinson, and have played their best basketball of the season since Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving went down.
Sunday made it 9-3.
Out of the 11 games without their two backcourt stars, four were against teams above .500. That’s where all three losses came from. On Sunday, they let everyone know they aren’t content hanging around with some of the best. They want wins, not moral victories. They established that last season when they started the season 8-18 and could’ve tanked. After all, they finally had their own pick.
Atkinson and Sean Marks said no. They want to win and they want to build a winning team culture. So they went for it and went 34-22 and made the playoffs. This year, they lost their three best players to injury. No matter. Go for it.
And so Sunday’s matinee was another back-and-forth battle throughout, with neither team leading by more than three points in the final 8:26 of the game. It would come down to another ‘clutch situation’ game for the Nets — their 16th game in which they were within five points in the final five minutes.
Struggling to find offense in the fourth, the Nets found themselves down one with 1:32 left. They failed on the offensive end, then forced a shot clock violation on Denver.
Somebody needed to step up. And that somebody was Spencer Dinwiddie. AGAIN!
The three ball wasn’t falling throughout the night, but the downhill style destroyed Denver. From the sidelines, Irving was signaling to Dinwiddie: GO LEFT. So he did.
It was 101-100, Nets lead with 42.3 seconds left.
Kyrie was telling Dinwiddie to go left. It worked. pic.twitter.com/SuxmaVxdy6— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) December 8, 2019
Nikola Jokic came down and hit a tough, turnaround fade to give the Nuggets a one-point lead with 31 seconds left. Who was the ball going to? You could’ve guessed this one.
Out of the timeout, Dinwiddie caught the ball at the top of the key, crossed left under the legs, took two dribble with his left hand and finished with his right, giving the Nets a 103-102 lead with 26 seconds left.
It turned into the game-winning shot for Brooklyn — a 24-point, eight assist night on 10-of-17 shooting for Dinwiddie. He’s become the leader of this team with Irving and LeVert out. 3
In 12 starts, Dinwiddie is averaging 23.4 points and 7.4 assists on 43.6% from the field and 89% from the FT line...In this time, he’s 1 of 6 players averaging 24+ points & 7+ assists, joining Luka Doncic, James Harden, LeBron James, Bradley Beal & Trae Young...The Nets are 9-3 since.
But man, he left KD hanging!
As Kenny Atkinson said, post-game:
“This is a darn good team. It’s rare that you get too excited about a win, but this one gets you excited that we can compete with the best teams in the league even with a few guys out.”
So much of that optimism is related to “Next Man Up.” In this case, Spencer Dinwiddie.
In Spencer Dinwiddie’s second season with the Nets, we spoke about Most Improved Player. In Dinwiddie’s third season, we spoke about Sixth Man of the Year. In Dinwiddie’s fourth season (through 23 games), we’re talking borderline All-Star. Serious talk.
The Nuggets had their chance, but the Nets did a good job on the defensive end, which ultimately won them the game. They blitzed Nikola Jokic, forcing him to pass it off to Will Barton who missed an ugly contested shot.
Nets win, Nets win: 105-102.
The Nets out-rebounded the Nuggets by 11 and turned the ball over only 11 times. They dished out 25 assists on 40 made field goals — their seventh straight game with 24 or more assists. They hit just 7-of-28 from deep, but they absolutely feasted on the Nuggets inside the paint — outscoring them by 44 points in that category.
It showed in the final stages of the game.
Brooklyn’s defense was particularly impressive. They held the Nuggets to just 40 percent shooting, holding them to 21 points in the first quarter; 23 points in the third quarter and 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Jokic did his usual thing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but the Nets forced the ball out of his hands when it mattered most.
On Brooklyn’s end, Jarrett Allen was crucial yet again with 19 points and 11 rebounds — his eighth straight game with 10+ rebounds. The last Net to grab 10+ boards in eight straight games through their first three seasons with the Nets? Kenyon Martin who was in the building, it should be noted.
Others stepped up — and it’s become the norm. Garrett Temple scored 15 points and hit three of Brooklyn’s seven three-pointers. Taurean Prince didn’t get it done from the field, but he came up huge on the glass with 11 rebounds... and he hit the free throws to put Brooklyn up three with six seconds left.
It was yet another testament to all they’ve built in the 12 games Kyrie has been out. They won their ninth game in the last 12 since he’s been out.
Nobody is saying they’re better without him.
But these current Nets have something special going, and they’re doing it in the eyes of adversity.
DJ-ALLEN PRE-GAME RITUAL
DeAndre Jordan has his pre-game ritual with every Nets starter as they enter the game. Allen is always the last, after all, DJ is a mentor to him and it’s important the two have a good relationship. It’s worth noting the little things — like chemistry — especially when talking about a Nets organization who prides itself on being a tight-knit “family”.
And, it’s just funny.
Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan’s pre-game fro-check has become a staple in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/nXyfjD5cpw— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) December 8, 2019
People will argue whether DJ was worth the 4 years at $40 million, but he’s been a voice in the locker room and yet another player in the organization who makes this whole basketball thing a little more fun for everybody involved.
UPDATE ON KYRIE:
Nets haven’t offered a timetable and probably won’t until a Kyrie return is close. Right now, it doesn’t sound like it’s happening anytime soon.
But hey, keep the boat afloat, let Kyrie and Caris get right, and all should be good.. right?
Atkinson made it clear that despite the recent success, the Nets will be better when the two stars are back.
“We just have to be careful (with that thinking). We’re a much better team when Kyrie is back, Caris (LeVert) is back: That’s just a factual thing in my opinion,” Atkinson said. “When those guys come back I want to continue our defensive improvement. I don’t see why it can’t. I think Kyrie is a heck of a defender, that’s my personal opinion.
“Caris is really good. There’s no reason we can’t improve. The continuity…that’s huge. Just having a group together for a long period of time you’re seeing that a little bit with this group now to know their role…That’s how teams grow. Last year we started out poorly defensively and through continuity and habits we kept getting better. I don’t see why we can’t do that when everybody’s back.”
DINWIDDIE IS THE NETS AND THE NETS ARE DINWIDDIE
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3 years ago today, the Brooklyn Nets plucked Spencer Dinwiddie out of the G League. Today, he hit the game-winner to defeat the Denver Nuggets, finishing wit 24 points and 6 assists. . . Dinwiddie’s evolution is a great representation for the evolution of the Brooklyn Nets since Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson took over. Next man up. Growth. Commitment. . . In 12 starts, Dinwiddie is averaging 23.4 points and 7.4 assists on 43.6% from the field and 89% from the FT line. . . In this time, he’s 1 of 6 players averaging 24+ points & 7+ assists, joining Luka Doncic, James Harden, LeBron James, Bradley Beal & Trae Young. . . The Nets are 9-3 since.
For a different perspective, head on over to Denver Stiffs, our Nuggets sister site on SB Nation.
Next up: Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday at 7:30 PM ET.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 105, Denver Nuggets 102 - NBA.com
- Recap: Brooklyn Nets 105, Denver Nuggets 102 (Video) - NBA.com
- Kustok and Ruocco on Nets’ win - Sarah Kustok & Ryan Ruocco - YES Network
- Dinwiddie on big defensive night (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Atkinson talks lock down defense (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on Irving’s status (Video) - YES Network
- Grady on Nets’ Centers (Video) - YES Network
- Nets hold off Nuggets 105-102 for 3rd straight victory - Michael Scotto - AP
- Dinwiddie’s winner caps wild 4th as Nets top Nuggets - Reuters
- Spencer Dinwiddie’s late heroics lift Nets over Nuggets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- The end to Kyrie Irving’s injury nightmare may finally be close - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Dinwiddie’s late heroics helps Nets edge Nuggets - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Irving still not cleared for contact, but making progress - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Nets (minus Kyrie Irving) play like night-and-day against Nuggets - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- NETS 105, NUGGETS 102: SPENCER DINWIDDIE’S DRIVE LIFTS BROOKLYN OVER DENVER - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. NUGGETS - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. NUGGETS: SPENCER DINWIDDIE, JARRETT ALLEN, AND KENNY ATKINSON TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Nuggets get pounded inside, fall to Nets 105-102 - Denver Nuggets