After their second nail-biting match of the season the Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons are becoming must see tv this season—at least when they play each other. The Nets avoided a four game losing streak, defeating the Pistons 120-119 after a game-clinching shot from Spencer Dinwiddie on Halloween last night at The Barclays Center
The former Pistons guard put the Nets on his back in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring 17 of his team high 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Dinwiddie also put a stamp on the game with his clutch defense on All-Star Blake Griffin (25 points) in the closing seconds, ending their three game skid, which obviously weighed on the Nets prior to the game.
“That was the thing that made this win really big for us – because of the losing streak. Because of what we’re fighting for. We’re trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past,” Dinwiddie told reporters after the game.
But there was more to take away from Wednesday nights victory. The Nets (3-5) played with a different kind poise and perseverance than fans are used to seeing. They quickly jumped to a 15 point lead in the first quarter behind the scoring of Joe Harris (23 points, 5 rebounds) and Caris LeVert (19 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds), but by also holding the Pistons—who defeated Brooklyn during their season home opener 103-100– to only 30 percent shooting from the field.
Even after the strong start they managed to blow a 15 point lead in the second quarter. However the Nets came into the second half focused defensively, holding the Pistons to just 35 percent shooting from the field in the third quarter and out rebounding them 14-8, with eight of their boards coming from the offensive glass.
“Going into half time, I was not pleased. I know we were down six or eight but we were not playing well. I think we started out like gang busters. We were absolutely outstanding. I think we were up 27-12 and then the wheels fell off. We made some substitutions and it kind of tumbled from there. I think by halftime, we were just very disappointed in our play,” Coach Kenny Atkinson said after the game.
Down 83-77 the Nets continued to carry the defensive momentum and focus into they came into the second half with.
“Part of the reason I was upset was because of missed coverages and some breakdowns in transition, just a general lack of focus. So I’m glad we refocused and got back on track,” Atkinson said during his post game conference. “We let them know about it and to their credit, they turned it around.”
Both teams were going back and forth in the final quarter of regulation and with 103-96 deficit the Nets rallied. To start the run Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer followed by a four-point play after being fouled by Ish Smith to get the Nets within 105-104 with 2:07 left. Dinwiddie then found Jarrett Allen (14 points, 6 rebounds) for a three-point play to give the Nets the lead with only 1:31 left in regulation.
With The Nets leading 107-105, Griffin hits a three pointer, which is immediately followed by two Reggie Jackson free throws to give Detroit a 110-107 lead with 22.6 seconds left in regulation. But Dinwiddie hit a huge three pointer to force overtime.
Overtime was more of the same as both teams battled it out keeping the game tight from the start. With 1:27 left in overtime the game was tied at 114-114, Griffin hit a 26’ three pointer to put the Pistons ahead 117-114 forcing the Nets into a timeout. But before you could blink veteran forward Jared Dudley’s hits a right-corner 3 to tie the game again.
With 53.6 seconds left in overtime, Griffin comes through once again with a floating bank shot to give the Pistons 119-117, their last lead of the night. With 7.1 seconds left on the clock Dinwiddie hits the game clinching three pointer to put the nets up 120-119, but before they could celebrate Griffin had one last opportunity to make Halloween a nightmare for everyone at the Barclays.
With 1.3 seconds left Dinwiddie squares up to defend Griffin who sees an obvious mismatch and attempts to back down the 6’6 combo guard. He pulls up, fades-away and with Dinwiddie giving no space Griffin misses the game winning shot.
It’s not rare to see the Nets blow leads, shoot poorly or be unfocused throughout four quarters of basketball, but responding and adjusting to their mistakes was one of their biggest pitfalls last season. But they are a different team this season? Even if the record doesn’t show it and the biggest takeaway from Wednesday nights victory was the ability to chip away and perform in the clutch. Something they just couldn’t do last season.
“We were just resilient. We’re the resilient team. We fought through a lot of missed opportunities. I thought that we had a bunch of opportunities to close it out and we just kept fighting. The last defensive stop was king of indicative of our toughness tonight,” said Atkinson. “Caris (LeVert) comes up with the huge rebound a the end, Spencer (Dinwiddie) gets caught in the switch against one of the players in the league and does a heck of a job. So that was kind of the picture I leave from this game.”
As for Dinwiddie and his superb performance, the veteran guard knows what he’s capable of and has high praise for himself.
“When I step on the floor every night, in between those lines for the 20, 30 or 48 minutes, I’m the best player on the floor. I carry that with me. That’s the type of chip on my shoulder I have, the mentality I have,” said Dinwiddie, who also added 4 boards and 4 assists.
“When I shot the shot, I didn’t think anything else except I was going to make it,” continued Dinwiddie.
The Nets and Pistons are now tied 1-1 on the season series. Their next game is against the 1-6 Houston Rockets tomorrow, Friday November 2 at The Barclays Center.