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Dinwiddie does in Magic in fourth

Nets run past Orlando to improve to 2-1 in NBA Cup play

November 15, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Spencer Dinwiddie shot the Nets right back into serious contention for a berth in the NBA Cup’s knockout rounds.

Having split its first two road contests in the league’s newly created In-Season Tournament, Brooklyn was desperate to climb back above .500 and remain in the hunt for the top spot in Eastern Conference Group C Tuesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

Dinwiddie answered the call when it mattered most, scoring 12 of his season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter by nailing every shot he took as the Nets rallied for a 124-104 rout of the Orlando Magic in front of 17,361 satisfied customers on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Deadlocked at 84-84 with just under a minute left in the third quarter, Brooklyn (6-1, 2-1 NBA Cup) went on a 19-5 burst highlighted by Dinwiddie’s pinpoint accuracy.

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The 6-foot-5 guard, always a fan favorite and enjoying his second stint here after arriving back in Brooklyn in the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Dallas in February, buried a 25-footer to give the Nets a 100-89 cushion with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Dinwiddie converted a three-point play, drilled another 3-pointer and capped his perfect period with a 24-footer that stretched the advantage to 116-97.

“Just playing some pick-and-roll and getting some mismatches,” said Dinwiddie, who finished 10-of-18 from the floor, 5-of-10 from 3-point range and 4-of-6 at the line while handing out nine assists.

“I was fortunate enough to hit some shots,” he added modestly.

Royce O’Neale points the Nets to victory as he and his fellow reserves bolstered Brooklyn to a 2-1 mark in NBA Cup play Tuesday. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

The Nets, who won their third in a row at Barclays after losing their first three home games, went on a 37-16 run spanning the final two quarters against the Magic (5-5, 0-1), who fell flat over the final 12 minutes to drop their tournament debut.

Brooklyn made the most of Orlando’s 14 giveaways, burning the Magic for 29 points off turnovers.

“I think the game was a little closer than it ended up being,” said Orlando’s Franz Wagner, who amassed 21 points and eight rebounds. “I think a lot of turnovers, and they got open shots in transition. Offensively, we lost our flow a bit.”

The Nets regained theirs thanks to Dinwiddie, who filled in at the point for injured starter Ben Simmons (back).

“Obviously (Dinwiddie) had a great quarter,” said Cam Johnson, who scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the best of his three games since returning from a calf injury that shelved him for two weeks.

”Really gave us a big lift with some timely buckets,” he added. “That kind of hurts the other team’s confidence. Guys played well across the board.”

Mikal Bridges had 21 points and Brooklyn’s “Bench Mob” continued to show off the Nets’ depth with Cam Thomas (ankle) out of action as well.

Reserves Royce O’Neale, Lonnie Walker IV and Day’Ron Sharpe combined for 35 points with each drilling four 3-pointers. Sharpe also ripped down a game-high 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which held a 44-37 advantage on the boards.

“I thought (Sharpe’s) minutes were very valuable tonight for our group on both ends of the floor,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said.

The Nets are only behind Boston (1-0) in Group C and will close out their stage slate Nov. 28 here against Toronto.

Only the top team in each of the six groups will advance to the knockout round with one squad from each conference qualifying for a wild-card spot.

Though Brooklyn struggled to sneak past Washington Sunday afternoon due to porous shooting from long range, it found its 3-point touch on its NBA Cup floor, designed specifically for tournament play.

The Nets sank an eye-popping 49 percent (19-of-39) of their shots from beyond the arc after going 12-for-49 against the Wizards.

“A really good response and effort from our guys,” Vaughn gushed after his team closed out a 2-0 homestand with its third win in four games. “We talked about being better tonight on both ends of the floor, and our guys were definitely better.”

Mikal Bridges and the Nets got their 3-point shooting touch back against the Magic Tuesday at Barclays Center. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

NOTHING BUT NET: Simmons, who missed the previous three games due to an apparent hip injury, had an MRI exam this week that revealed a nerve impingement in the lower left side of his back, according to the Associated Press. He will miss at least another week before being reevaluated by the Nets training staff. “Ben was day-to-day. He was improving,” Vaughn said. “It got to a point where obviously he wasn’t playing, so we wanted to be extremely thorough, so (he) got an MRI … which showed a left-side impingement.” … Brooklyn boasts a 16-4 mark against Orlando here at Barclays Center. … The Nets will be in Miami Thursday night before flying back to host Philadelphia here Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

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