Dinwiddie, Nets thriving without Irving
Brooklyn improves to 5-1 behind reigning NBA Player of the Week.
Freshly minted as the NBA’s Player of the Week on Monday morning, Spencer Dinwiddie got a jump on the competition for next week’s honor Monday night.
The injury-plagued Nets’ early season savior continued his recent heroics in dramatic fashion in front of a crowd of 17,143 at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, drilling the game-winning jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining as Brooklyn pulled out a 108-106 victory over the Cavaliers.
Dinwiddie, who received his first-ever Player of the Week honor hours earlier after guiding the Nets to a 3-1 mark despite the absences of starting guards Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, found himself with the ball in his hands with the score deadlocked at 106 and the clock winding down.
He received the inbound pass from Joe Harris, deftly slid past Cleveland defender Cedi Osman and rose up for an 18-footer that flushed through the net to give Brooklyn (9-8) its fifth win in six games without anything resembling its full cast of characters.
And Dinwiddie has been the main understudy to shine during this spirited run.
He is averaging 24.6 games per contest during Irving’s continued absence due to a shoulder impingment and finished with 23 points, a season-high nine assists and three blocked shots against the Cavs.
Despite his emergence in the absence of the Nets’ two other scoring guards, Dinwiddie took a modest approach when asked about Brooklyn’s resurgence following a 4-7 start to the season.
“It’s the defense, man. At the end of the day, that’s all it comes down too,” he noted after Brooklyn’s season-high fourth straight win of the year.
“And that should be a Nets theme regardless of who’s playing,” Dinwiddie added. “If we as a unit can hold a team to around 100 points then we have a chance winning that game. Obviously when we have Kyrie and them the chances then are a lot higher.”
The Nets won’t have Irving in Boston on Wednesday night when they try to complete a perfect three-game road trip.
But Head Coach Kenny Atkinson readily admitted that the Nets are jellng for the first time during this season of high expectations, even if Irving and fellow newly arrived superstar Kevin Durant, are not a part of the process at the moment.
“I sense it in the locker room. An aura, sometimes you feel like they were locked into this game,” Atkinson said.
“They were ready to go. … I felt like we got stronger as the game went on. But like we talked about before the game, I think it was the mental approach. It’s a connected group right now. They’re feeling good about themselves. It carried over. Got us a win tonight.”
Jarrett Allen scored 22 points and grabbed 21 rebounds for his second career 20-20 game and Harris added 19 points for Brooklyn, which will be back at the Barclays Center on Friday to complete the second half of a home-and-home with Boston.
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