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Ouch: Spencer Dinwiddie’s buzzer-beater breaks Nets’ four-game win streak, 113-111

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a game that came down to the final buzzer. In the end, an old friend made the best revenge statement he could — a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the win.

In the closing seconds of the contest, Spencer Dinwiddie (22 points) got to the right-wing, took a bounce pass from a double-teamed Luka Doncic, and drilled a 26-foot three for the win, sending an electric Barclays Center crowd into shock and awe...

The final score: 113-111. With the defeat, the Nets fall to 36-34 on the season while the Mavericks rise to 43-26.

“We guarded it perfectly. We got the ball out of Luka’s hands. A hard, hard contest, awkward shot, and it happened to go in,” said Steve Nash on Dinwiddie’s game-winning 3-Pointer. “I was proud of the guys. Great fight. They made a big play to win it and our group, undermanned, third game in four nights, I thought showed a lot of resolve.”

Dinwiddie said post-game that his game-winner was like “sticking it to your cousin.”

“Its different than the Detroit ones,” said Dinwiddie about his revenge games vs. teh Pistons who drafted then dumped him. “I wanted those bad because my time in Detroit wasnt fun ... This was just fun. It feels good. There’s a lot of positive vibes here. Its like sticking it to your cousin vs. being vengeful for an enemy.”

And it was the former Net’s second dagger this week. He hit a clutch three with nine seconds left to break a tie with Boston three days ago, adding to the post-game celebrations.

The Nets, one the back end of a back-to-back, faded late. Their double-digit lead (12 points) to start the fourth quarter vanished with Dallas knotting the contest up at 102 with 4:10 left in the contest. After back-and-forth between the two squads, the game came down to the final minute of play.

Nic Claxton tipped home Kevin Durant’s missed jumper to tie the game at 108 with 46.5 seconds left. On the other end of the floor, Luka Doncic (game-high 37 points) connected on a nifty 17-foot mid-range jumper to put Dallas up two points. The Nets chose not to wind down the game clock and instead, Durant nailed a 27-foot three to put Brooklyn up 111-110 with 10.6 left on the clock.

“We just let him go in transition so they can’t set their defense,” said Nash on Durant’s clutch three with 10.6 seconds left. “That’s what we wanted. Him to get a shot.”

In Dallas’ last hope to steal the win, it was Dinwiddie who drilled a tough right-wing 3-pointer, dropping in as the buzzer sounded to seal his revenge game in brilliant fashion. Although it was the toughest of endings, there were a lot of positives for the depleted Nets finished with a total of six players in double-figures.

Durant led all Nets with 23 points (8-of-20 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc), 10 assists, and six rebounds in 39 minutes of play. Goran Dragic, who had his best game as a Net, scored a season-high 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting overall and 1-of-4 shooting from behind the arc to go with three boards and four rebounds in 36 minutes. The Nets head coach said Dragic, his former backup guard in Phoenix, played “sensational” Wednesday night.

Bruce Brown also had another strong outing with 17 points, nine boards and five assists followed by Andre Drummond with a double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds in 22 minutes. The bench contributed a total of 27 points, led by Claxton (13 points) and Kessler Edwards (12 points). The Nets concluded the heartbreaker outrebounding the Mavericks, 45-37, dishing more assists (28-21), and scoring more points in the paint (56-50).

“Just good ball movement starting with KD. With them doubling him, it leaves a good opportunity for everybody else and we were all ready,” said Edwards on the catalyst to the balanced scoring on the Nets side. “It makes it easy.”

The Nets started Goran Dragic, Patty Mills, Durant, Brown, and Drummond against the Mavericks. Brooklyn attacked the basket early, feeding Drummond under the basket and delivering. He scored eight of the Nets’ first 19 points to boost an early 19-14 lead with 5:24 left in the first. In that span, Dallas rarely attacked the basket, settling for midrange jumpers or shooting outside the perimeter.

The black-and-white built a 10-point shortly out of the timeout, but Doncic kept the Mavericks afloat early, generating his own offense and splashing two 3-pointers to go with a series of drives to trim the deficit to seven (30-23) to finish off the first. The difference-maker for the Nets in the first was second-chance points (10 points) sparked by Drummond’s dominance early. Drummond had 10 of the team's 17 rebounds in the opening frame.

The Mavericks opened the second with a smooth groove shooting the ball, hitting four of their first six shots. On the other end of the floor, Dragic heated up in the opening minutes, tallying 14 points in six minutes to build the lead back up to 12 points for the Nets.

Dragic’s second quarter offensive breakthrough steered the ship but the rebound advantage continued to grow a larger impact as the quarter progressed. The strong effort on the boards (27-17) held Dallas to only four second-chance points. It was Drummond who manned the boards, ending the first half with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Durant, who was doubled throughout the two quarters of play, tallied 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting overall and 0-of-2 shooting from 3-point range while Brooklyn scored a total of 28 points in the paint.

At the break, Brooklyn held a 61-58 lead — their eighth-straight halftime lead. On the other side, Doncic led the Mavericks charge with a team-high 24 points in 18 minutes. He shot 9-of-17 from the field and 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

After a short back-and-forth shootout from behind the arc between Durant and Doncic, Brooklyn gained some momentum midway through the third. Doncic, who only scored nine points in the third, was locked down on the perimeter by Claxton and forced into tough shots throughout the frame.

The Nets forced the Mavericks into three-straight turnovers sparking an 11-1 run. In the run, the Mavericks continued to throw a double-team at Durant (16 points), resulting in open looks for Edwards (10 points) in the corners or Brown (17 points) cutting to the basket. The run served as a catalyst in the frame as Brooklyn hit the final 12 minutes of play nursing a 91-79 lead.

Dallas began chipping away at the lead as soon as the quarter began. The Mavericks opened the final frame on a 7-2 burst and slowly trimmed Brooklyn’s lead that stood at 12 points. Almost suddenly, Nets’ lead to be cut to one point (97-96). Nash ended Durant’s rest at the 7:02 mark. Dallas answered by subbing in their superstar, Doncic during the next dead ball.

Brooklyn’s double-digit lead (12 points) to start the fourth quarter vanished with Dallas knotting the contest up at 102 with 4:10 left in the contest. The game came down to the final minute of play but in the end, Dinwiddie would not be denied.

“I thought part of it was three in four nights, undermanned. The guys are a little bit tired and you can see a little fatigue creep in,” said Nash on the Nets’ play down the stretch. “Mentally, our guys were locked in and I thought were outstanding tonight.”

Clutch Dinwiddie

We all know that Spencer Dinwiddie can hit big shots, in Houston, in L.A. just before the pandemic hit, but surprisingly according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, this was his first actual buzzer beater. Still, he is clutch as time runs down as both the Celtics and Nets learned this week.

In case you forgot, Nets traded Dinwiddie to Washington last July in a five-team deal. The Nets got two second rounders (one of which was almost immediately used in the DeAndre Jordan salary dump), the rights to Euroleague 7-foooter Nikola Milutinov, and an $11.45 million trade exception, $8.21 million of which was used to bring on Seth Curry in the 76ers trade at the deadline. The Nets still have $3.24 million left on the Dinwiddie TPE which it can be used through July 6.

Dinwiddie who was not a good fit with the Wizards was traded before the February 10 deadline in a deal centered on him and Kristaps Porzingis.

The Film Room

Basketball can be a cruel game.

A team can work in unison, its players carrying out the gameplan like a diligent army unit, with each participant doing his part to limit the opposition in key moments. Karmically speaking, that should be enough to secure a victory. That’s what would happen in a sports movie, right? The group comes together for a big hoorah moment, game on the line, the season in question, and stifles opposition with some picture-perfect teamwork. Roll the credits.

But sports movies are a sham. Sometimes, at least. Occasionally, the winds of karma blow in the wrong freaking direction.

That’s what happened on the final shot of the game on Wednesday... even when the Nets carried out their tactics perfectly.

Luka Doncic brought the ball up full court after Kevin Durant hit an absolutely asinine three-pointer just seconds before. The Mavericks then brought in Maxi Kleber to set on a screen on Bruce Brown, thereby giving Doncic the switch with Nic Claxton. Brooklyn then blitzed Doncic by sending the closest defender, Kevin Durant, for an all-7 foot double team.

“I felt it was an opportunity for us to get the ball out of Luka’s hands. I mean, it was three seconds on the clock, he might rush a pass and they might rush a shot,” said Kevin Durant. “I thought the probabilities on them making a shout was pretty low.”

That said, Doncic quickly made the correct pass to the now unguarded Spencer Dinwiddie, though Goran Dragic rotated up from the corner perfectly to defend the open man.

You know the rest... a cruel fate. And a revenge-shot that’ll sit heavily on Nets fans' minds for some time. A Spencer Dinwiddie game-winner. Of course. All too perfect for this disappointing Nets season.

After the game, Kevin Durant wondered aloud if his decision to double Luka Doncic was a correct one. And to be fair, a situation in which Luka Doncic isolates against Nicolas Claxton isn’t exactly a disadvantageous one for the Nets, given how strong the 22-year-old center has looked defending the Slovenian superstar. So KD’s musings may have some merit.

“It felt shitty going into the locker room, and that’s just the nature of it. Game-winning shot like that, nobody’s feeling good. We watched that last play. Just regret,” said Durant. “I’m wondering what the game would have been like if I didn’t go jump Luka right there. So in hindsight, I wish I would have made a different decision but it is what it is.”

It is what it is, indeed.

Milestone Watch (revised)

We did an extensive Milestone Watch after Kyrie Irving’s 60-point classic on Tuesday, but there’s a late add and it’s a big one.

Another fine for Kevin Durant?

Brian Lewis speculates that an exchange between a frustrated Kevin Durant and a fan both on the court and afterwards could lead to a fine for the Nets start.

A fan shared a video on TikTok that was taken courtside, catching a voice from the crowd telling Kevin Durant, ”You’ve got to take this game over,” and the Nets star responding “You gotta shut the f- -k up and sit down.”

He retweeted the video, along with a photo of a woman handing over money... a seeming acknowledgement that he’s going to get fined.

The NBA has been aggressive this season in fining players for just such exchanges.

What’s next

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets will return to action on Friday, March 18 when the team hosts the Portland Trail Blazers at Barclays Center for the second game of a three-game homestand. The game is slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on Wednesday night’s contest, check out Mavs Moneyball — our sister site covering the Mavericks.