Dinwiddie does it all as Nets edge Pistons
Brooklyn’s Mr. Clutch scores 25 points in second half and overtime
Spencer Dinwiddie never has to be reminded that the Detroit Pistons gave up on him after selecting him 38th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Instead, he’s the one that keeps reminding his former organization that it made a big mistake in not recognizing his formidable talents earlier.
Dinwiddie, a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player a season ago, almost single-handedly turned what appeared to be the Nets’ fourth consecutive loss into a scintillating 120-119 overtime victory over Detroit on Halloween night in front of 12,862 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
“What can I say about Spencer? He was phenomenal,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson gushed after watching his guard score all 25 of his points off the bench during the second half and overtime.
“I thought he struggled a bit in the first half, I thought his second half was great. Not just the 3-pointers, but him getting to the rim. His speed and size, he wreaks havoc on a defense.”
And he imposed his will on this game.
With the Nets down six points following a Blake Griffin 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, Dinwiddie rose up and drilled a 3-pointer of his own while getting fouled by Detroit’s Ish Smith.
By converting the rare four-point play, Dinwiddie drew the Nets within 103-100, the closest they had been to the Pistons since Joe Harris’ long-range bomb also cut the deficit to three with 5:21 left.
But Dinwiddie was just getting started on his late-game assault against the team that only allowed him to appear in 46 NBA games over his first two seasons before dealing him to Chicago.
The 25-year-old Los Angeles native and reigning NBA All-Star Skills Challenge champion scored seven points during a 14-7 fourth quarter-closing run that forced overtime at 110 apiece.
His catch-turn-and-fire 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in regulation brought the Barclays Center crowd to its feet and forced the Pistons, fresh off Tuesday night’s narrow defeat in Boston, to play at least another five minutes.
“[Dinwiddie] has got a personal vendetta every time we play him,” Detroit center Andre Drummond admitted after amassing 24 points and 23 rebounds during the Pistons’ third consecutive defeat following a 4-0 start to the season.
“He’s trying to let us have it every time we play,” added Drummond, a teammate of Dinwiddie’s during those two seasons in Detroit. “Any time he sees the Detroit Pistons, he comes after us. So, I mean, that’s a great mindset for him to have. I know it’s a big year for him, so I wish him the best.”
Dinwiddie’s efforts weren’t purely a result of his need for vengeance.
Having been run over by the Knicks two nights earlier at Madison Square Garden following back-to-back narrow defeats to New Orleans and Golden State, the Nets (3-5) were desperate to get back into the win column, regardless of the opponent.
“That was the only thing that made this win really big for us … because of the losing streak,” Dinwiddie said.
“Because of what we’re fighting for and trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past. You’ve got to learn to get out of a rut quickly, because [losses] can string together and it can affect morale.”
The former Piston made sure the rut ended.
He answered Griffin’s go-ahead basket in the final minute of overtime by calmly drilling what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left.
“They had been telling me to drive,” said Dinwiddie. “But you know, it was like the Kermit [meme], where you got “Hoodie Kermit” telling you, ‘nah, shoot the step back three.’ So, I was like, man, all right, cool, let’s do it.”
Perhaps more impressively, Dinwiddie was left alone with Griffin on the game’s final possession and got just enough pressure on the perennial NBA All-Star to make him misfire from medium range before Caris LeVert grabbed the rebound as time expired.
Though LeVert has emerged as the team’s go-to option on the offensive end throughout the first few weeks of the season, Dinwiddie, who burned the Pistons with a buzzer-beating 3-ball at Little Caesar’s Arena last season, reclaimed his title as Brooklyn’s Mr. Clutch Wednesday night.
“When I step on the floor every night, in between those lines for the 20 or 30 or 48 minutes or however long, I believe I’m the best player on the floor,” he noted.
“So I carry that with me. That’s the type of chip on my shoulder that I have. That’s the type of mentality I have. And then when I step off, I’m just me. You know what I mean? I feel like that’s the approach you have to have.”
Dinwiddie, who also had four assists and two rebounds, will try to help the Nets build off their big win when they host the Houston Rockets here in Brooklyn on Friday night.
Nothing But Net: Though Dinwiddie stole the show Wednesday night, there were plenty of other Nets who contributed to the winning effort. Harris finished with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including a 4-of-7 effort from 3-point range. But even Harris was left in awe of Dinwiddie’s second-half performance. “He was huge for us,” Harris said. “Getting downhill, putting their bigs in difficult positions where they had to pick their poison. They’re either going to have to stick with him or defend the roll, and Spencer was just making the right decision most of the evening, and then he hit some really tough shots there down the stretch too.” … LeVert also had a solid all-around game against the Pistons, scoring 19 points to go with six rebounds and six assists. … The Nets unveiled their alternate third jersey, part of Nike’s The City Edition line, Thursday morning at JFK Airport while also showing off a new JetBlue Nets-themed commercial plane. The jersey pays homage to the Notorious B.I.G.’s Coogi sweater design and also features a Bed-Stuy logo.
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