Dinwiddie keys Nets’ win over Cavs
NEW YORK — Before he began his postgame interview, Spencer Dinwiddie looked up and said, “Hi guys,” to the media surrounding his locker.
Dinwiddie is unaccustomed to big media groups around his locker, but he faced a throng ready to inquire about his big shot that beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dinwiddie scored a career-high 22 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining as the Brooklyn Nets overcame a triple-double by James and defeated Cleveland 112-107 on Wednesday night.
The fourth-year guard made his 20th career start and first in place of D’Angelo Russell (right knee sprain). He shot 7-for-13, with his biggest basket coming after the Nets blew a 12-point lead.
“Spencer organized us,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He hit some big shots, he was aggressive. We keep pushing him to be more aggressive, be more aggressive, and tonight he really stepped up, hit some big shots and played excellent defense.”
The Cavaliers held a 104-103 lead after Kevin Love split a pair at the line with 43.1 seconds remaining. On the next possession, Dinwiddie received the ball from DeMarre Carroll and spotted up from 31 feet out as J.R. Smith ran over to contest the shot.
“Instead of driving it, I just had a conscious to walk into the 3,” said Dinwiddie, a career 29.8 percent 3-point shooter. “It’s a similar shot to a shot against the Knicks in (the) preseason. I actually shot some uncharacteristically deep threes this year, but like I said, they don’t care, so I let it fly and I was fortunate enough to make that one and we won the game.”
Dinwiddie’s fourth 3-pointer of the night gave the Nets a 106-104 lead, and then they sweated out the final seconds.
After Brooklyn took a four-point lead on a hoop by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 26 seconds remaining, Cleveland’s Kyle Korver made a 3-pointer on a catch-and-shoot one second later, and the Nets subsequently missed three of four free throws.
Those free throws were sandwiched around James missing two foul shots with 7.1 seconds left, the second intentionally. It was a move that backfired as Love missed a put-back and the Nets secured the win by hitting three foul shots in the final seconds.
Dinwiddie’s big shot spoiled James’ 56th career triple-double. James totaled 29 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds but also committed eight turnovers — two shy of his career high.
James’ big night occurred as he played point guard for the second straight night, doing so for 41:22. He and the rest of the Cavaliers allowed the Nets to make 17 of 46 3-pointers, including 6 of 10 in the fourth quarter.
“The last one Spencer hit was pretty deep, but we definitely gotta (contest it),” James said. “I mean, that’s what this league is now. The league is a 3-point shot, and we gotta get adjusted to that and cover that line.”
While James believed the Cavaliers contested some of Brooklyn’s 3-pointers decently, coach Tyronn Lue felt differently.
“It was just not contesting shots,” Lue said. “These guys are NBA players, and if we don’t contest shots and get out to the 3-point line, they are going to continue to make them. When we came into the game, we told them that Brooklyn is second in the league in attempts and they’re getting them up.”
Besides the best night from Dinwiddie, others contributed for the Nets, who bounced back after blowing multiple 12-point leads by collapsing defensively in Orlando on Tuesday.
Allen Crabbe and Hollis-Jefferson added 19 apiece. Carroll, among those defending James, scored 18 points as the Nets tied a team record for 3-point attempts.
Korver scored 22 points, hitting five 3-pointers, while Jeff Green contributed 18 for the Cavs, who shot 48 percent. Love added 15 and 12 rebounds.
The Nets held a 92-81 lead on a hoop by rookie Jarrett Allen with 8:49 left, but Cleveland scored the next 13 points, highlighted by a windmill dunk by James.
NOTES: Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said G D’Angelo Russell’s right knee sprain is nothing serious but the team wants to be cautious to avoid a more extensive injury. ... Cleveland G Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) was out after banging knees with Chicago’s Kay Felder while taking a charge during the Tuesday game. ... Cavaliers G Derrick Rose (left ankle sprain) missed his third straight game, but coach Tyronn Lue said he is hopeful Rose can play by Saturday at New Orleans. ... Injured Cleveland G Isaiah Thomas appeared in Wednesday’s episode of “Law & Order SVU.” He told fans about the appearance by posting on Instagram: “Check your boy out tonight, lol.” ... Brooklyn F Sean Kilpatrick rejoined the team after the birth of his son earlier this week and played 10 minutes in his season debut. ... Yankees LHP CC Sabathia, RF Aaron Judge and RHP Dellin Betances sat courtside.