Nets ride Dinwiddie to third straight win
Edge Sixers behind reserve guard’s career-best 39-Point effort
Spencer Dinwiddie channeled his inner Steph Curry Wednesday night in Philadelphia, spearheading the resurgent Brooklyn Nets to their season high-tying third straight win.
“I just started feeling like Steph,” Dinwiddie revealed moments after lighting up the 76ers for a career-high 39 points during a 127-124 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 20,376 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Dinwiddie, the winner of last year’s NBA All-Star Skills Competition and nominee for the league’s Most Improved Player award, tickled the twine from virtually every angle and distance while going 11-of-18 from the floor, 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 13-of-14 at the free-throw line.
While he still has quite a way to go to match Curry, a two-time MVP and arguably the best shooter in the modern history of the game, Dinwiddie continued to make the four-year, $47.5 million contract extension he became eligible for last week seem more attractive to general manager Sean Marks.
Over his last five games, the 25-year-old Los Angeles native is averaging 23.2 points on 52 percent shooting to go with five assists per contest.
More importantly, he came up biggest when the Nets needed him most against the Sixers, who were without sharp-shooter Jimmy Butler due to an injured groin.
With Brooklyn down by four points with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Dinwiddie went to work, scoring 15 points during a 24-7 run that put the Nets in front to stay, 92-79, with 1:11 remaining in the period.
Dinwiddie knocked down three 3-pointers during the hot stretch, capping it with a 26-footer.
“I don’t know if I’d say like I was in a ‘zone’ zone,” said Dinwiddie, who eclipsed his previous career scoring best by eight points.
“I told you — I hit two in a row, I think I’m hot,” he added. “They know. Can ask Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson). We’ve been in practice before, something like that, first one he’s like, ‘Ooh that was nice.’ Second one, he’s like, ‘Uh-oh. I’m telling you.’ It’s as simple as that.”
The virtuoso performance may have gone to waste if not for a pair of key contributions from the Brooklyn bench during the fourth quarter, when Philadelphia made a late charge.
Rookie Rodions Kurucs played the entirety of the final 12 minutes and finished with 13 points and three steals. Veteran forward Ed Davis pulled down 10 big rebounds and helped to slow down Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who still torched the Nets for 33 points and 17 boards.
“Spencer got hot. That was probably the big No. 1 thing,” said Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson as his squad continued to recover from a preceding season-high eight-game losing streak.
“We kept competing. I thought Rodi had really good minutes. Ed Davis kind of saved us a little bit against Embiid. His strength. Our bench was really good. I thought everybody contributed.”
As did Allen Crabbe, who resumed his recent red-hot shooting by going 4-of-8 from long range en route to 20 points.
But with Brooklyn clinging to a five-point lead in the final minute, it was once again Dinwiddie who slammed the door on the Sixers, knocking down four straight free throws to ice the Nets’ first three-game winning streak since Nov. 4-9.
“I don’t want to get carried away,” Atkinson said as his team prepared to try to make it four in a row when it hosts Washington here at Barclays Center last Friday night.
“Obviously, we went through a tough stretch,” he added. “But beating this team here, they’ve had two losses at home. I’ll even go back to the [eight-]game losing streak, the fact that we had chances to win I’d say 90 percent of them just bodes well.”