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NETS COME UP BIG IN THE 4TH, SNAP 7-GAME LOSING STREAK OVER HEAT: 117-113

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It’s felt like doom and gloom around the Nets. It felt like they needed a players-only session the same way they did last year when they lost eight straight.

It felt like a seven-game losing streak sending the season into a free fall.

“We stayed together, we were resilient. That’s one of our principles Kenny [Atkinson] has on the wall,” Spencer Dinwiddie told Michael Grady after the Nets snapped their seven-game losing streak, 117-113, Friday night at Barclays Center.

Brooklyn’s last win came on December 21 against the Atlanta Hawks, improving to 17-20 on the season.

“Thank God we broke that streak, it was getting rough out here!” Dinwiddie told Michael Grady after the game. Dinwiddie finished with 26 points and a career-high 14 assists on 10-of-19 shooting.

This game had the making of another disastrous loss late in the game. After trailing by as many as 12, the Nets brought it within one entering the fourth. With a chance to take their first lead since the first quarter, the Nets failed on a couple attempts and watched James Johnson hit his fifth and sixth 3-pointers of the season, giving Miami a 103-94 lead.

But for the first time in quite a while, the Nets looked like they wanted it more. They closed out the final five minutes of the game on a 17-4 run.

It all started with a Dinwiddie 3-pointer, followed by a second one from Caris LeVert. It was an 8-0 run capped off by a two from Taurean Prince, That trimmed Brooklyn’s deficit down to one with two minutes remaining.

Down two with 1:33 remaining, the Nets needed the big shot. The ball was moving but nobody was shooting. Caris LeVert caught the ball on the right wing extended, jab stepped towards the hoop, stepped back and nailed a huge three to put the Nets up 112-111.

The Nets came up with a huge stop on the defensive end. They came down and Prince missed a corner three, but Joe Harris was right there for an aggressive rebound and smart timeout.

The Barclays crowd was on its feet as Brooklyn’s identity came out in full force.

And Kyrie was PUMPED.

Out of the timeout, Atkinson called Prince’s number and Prince executed, 114-111, Nets lead with 26 seconds left. They forced a contested fadeaway three from the corner and Harris sealed this thing at the line.

The end of a seven-game losing streak and the first win of the decade. We anticipate many more.

The difference in this game:

  • Role players stepped up. Rodions Kurucs started in place of the injured Garrett Temple and finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, 4-of-5 from three. Despite shooting 1-of-10 from three, Prince scored 17 points and hit one of the biggest shots of the night. Prince was 7-of-7 from inside the arc.
  • Turnovers: The Nets committed nine turnovers in the first half, leading to 15 points for Miami. They had ZERO turnovers in the second half.
  • Hustle plays: I refer you back to the Minnesota game when the Nets were up by five with less than two minutes remaining. Gorgui Dieng went flying into the stands to save a ball while the Nets stood and watched. They’ve been out-hustled through this skid and it’s extremely uncharacteristic for Kenny Atkinson’s blue-collar identity. You saw the play above with Joe Harris, but it’s worth giving Dzanan Musa a shoutout for his play, which tied the game and ultimately jolted the Nets.

LeVert struggled (4-of-15) but he hit the biggest shot of the night. Others stepped up in his place. Dinwiddie played like the All-Star he is, and absolutely tore up Miami’s aggressive pick-and-roll defense. Miami overplayed the high picks, forcing Dinwiddie to choose which way he wanted to go.

They tried to block off one side of the court to disrupt the passing lane on the roll. Instead, Dinwiddie’s ability to fake one way and quick first step the other was the difference maker in his night. In enabled him to create for himself and create for others.

See this play:

And just like that, with a few updates on the superstars and one single win, the Nets and its fans can ride a high they haven’t felt in quite a while. They’ve still got a long way to go — and in the grand scheme of things, this is only one game.

But much like last year, all it took was one big victory. The rest fell into place.

DOUBLE-DOUBLES AND DUNKS

Jarrett Allen had his first double (11 and 11) in seven games. Same with Spencer Dinwiddie (26 and 14). DeAndre Jordan just missed a double double by two points. Still, he registered his 20th game with 10+ boards this season. Jordan’s 16 double digit rebound games off the bench are a league-high.

Allen who had a few great dunks on the evening recorded his 100th slam early in the game. He’s now fourth in the L.

DEBUTS AND TWO-WAYS

Justin Anderson, the Nets 10-day, got his first big minutes Friday night. The 6’6” wingman played 10, was 0-of-3 but played some good defense while on the court.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had another solid game, scoring 10 points in 21 minutes, shooting 4-of-6 overall and 2-of-3 from three. TLC is shooting 37.5 percent (12-of-32) from three since being brought up from Long Island in the middle of December.

Under league rules, once a two-way like Luwawu-Cabarrot spends 45 days —not games— with the parent club, the team must decide to either sign him to a standard NBA contract or send him back to the G League for the rest of the season. There’s no public accounting of the days, but two games back, Sarah Kustok said the 6’7” Frenchman has used up more than 30 of the 45 days. Expect a decision soon.

Meanwhile, Kristian Winfield of the Daily News reports that Billy Donovan, his coach last season in Oklahoma City, had high praise for TLC.

“He’s a very, very gifted player. He’s got a really, really good feel of how to play. He can get going offensively in terms of making shots,” Donovan said during the Thunder’s recent trip to Brooklyn. “Got a good feel in terms of passing the basketball. I think he’s in a really good style here for himself. He was a great guy for us in terms of his attitude and the way he worked and the way he was professional every single day. “

SHOWING OFF FOR THE LITTLE BROTHER

Rodions Kurucs had his best game of the season with 19 points, shooting 4-of-5 from deep. Was he showing off for little brother.

Stick around, kid. Big brother needs you.

KD AND KYRIE...

We’ve all heard the news by now. Kevin Durant was back on the court for individual workouts, and Kyrie Irving was back participating in contact drills at practice. Irving spoke to media with a big smile on his face days after the Nets — or rather Kyrie himself — gave an update on his shoulder impingement.

Then Friday night, before the game, Kenny Atkinson said that his prized player had “responded well” to his first 5-of-5 Thursday and would likely practice again Saturday, but he continued to be cagey about his prospects for a return to action.

“He’ll work again (Saturday), and then we’ll make our decision from there,” said Atkinson. “It’s constant communication, but I can’t give you, ‘He needs three more workouts, He needs two.’ There’s a point where you communicate with the performance team and the medical team and Kyrie obviously, and you make a decision.

“I’m pleased with where we’re progressing right now …”

Long story short...

Kenny Atkinson spoke on KD and chose his words carefully, saying he’s “progressing fantastically.” After that, he mentioned how he needs to talk to the Senior Director of Public Relations before he comments any further. One day later, his agent, Rich Kleiman, answered “I don’t know” when Michael Kay asked him when KD would be back this season.

NetsDaily learned a little while back that there was some optimism around KD’s progress, and that his injury occurred was high on Achilles where the blood circulation is good and healing is more rapid and complete.

They don’t say much and nor do they want to. Kyrie went from bringing forth the idea of in-season or off-season surgery — to speaking to reporters and practicing with contact in 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills.

All in the span of days!

The Nets do things their own way. It’s how they operate and we’ve known that for quite a while. There’s a difference now, though. The spotlight is on them, and the season dropped into a free fall once Irving’s injury lingered longer and longer.

It’s the first time the Nets, Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson and even the entire organization have dealt with superstar(s). Marks and Atkinson have also run a culture with all second-chance castoffs the past 3+ years. This is all different.

Regardless, typing the words “Nets” and “Kevin Durant” and “Kyrie Irving” would’ve seemed like a miracle a year ago. There are growing pains in all of this.

(And Knicks fans aren’t helping their case by poking the bear with KD on Twitter.)

For another perspective, head on over to Hot Hot Hoops, our sister site on SB Nation.

Next up: Hawks at Nets, 6:00 PM ET.