Another big night for Brooklyn Nets Allen Crabbe could be a breakthrough
Sharpshooter has scored 62 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range in the last two games
On the nights when the shots aren't falling, or even worse, when Allen Crabbe isn't taking enough of them, Spencer Dinwiddie will wonder where that alter ego has gone, that remorseless shooter who buried 3-pointers at a higher rate than all but one player in the NBA last season.
"He always jokes with me when I don't have the good games he says I play like Allen, and when I'm aggressive and doing what I need to be doing, he says I'm playing like AC," said Crabbe. "That's just our little trash talk to each other."
There was a lot of AC at Barclays Center in the second half on Saturday night. Maybe even in the first half, although Crabbe had just five points at the break. But he had already put up seven 3-pointers, following the encouragement he always gets from coach Kenny Atkinson to keep on shooting. He found the shots, they just weren't falling.
In the second half of a 138-128, double-overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, they did.
Crabbe scored 23 points after the break, making 7-of-11 3-pointers over the second half and two overtimes, to finish with 28 points on 8-of-18 3-point shooting.
"It's nothing new to me," said Crabbe. "My teammates are finding me, putting me in good situations, good opportunities. I'm getting good looks. They're screening for me well, finding me in transition. Just got to keep shooting the ball, regardless. Coach tells me if you get 15 threes up, who cares. Just keep shooting. That's what I'm doing, and the ball's going in for me right now."
The Nets were down by 20 at halftime - 72-52 - and it got worse. Six minutes into the third quarter, the New Orleans lead had ballooned to 28 points. It looked like a night to forget at Barclays Center.
It turned out to be exactly the opposite.
The Nets outscored the Pelicans 24-11 to the end of the quarter to get within 15 points going into the fourth. Fueling Brooklyn's momentum were three 3-pointers by Crabbe in less than a minute. His fourth of the quarter - on four attempts - came in the final minute of the period, and brought the Nets within 12, the closest they'd been since the opening minutes of the second quarter.
They kept on closing in throughout the fourth quarter. Dinwiddie had 11 in the quarter, and his three-point play on a drive to the rim brought the Nets within a point with 1:46 to go. Two Anthony Davis free throws put New Orleans back up 116-113.
With 14 seconds to go, DeMarre Carroll inbounded from the baseline. The play was for Crabbe all the way. He curled around a series of screens above the break, caught Carroll's pass in the corner, and buried the 3-pointer for overtime.
"That was the play we drew up," said Crabbe. "Find me in the corner. He gave it to me and I knocked it down."
He knocked down two more in the first overtime to put the Nets up four, before the Pelicans tied the game, forced the second overtime, and pulled away for the win.
Crabbe's big night followed a season-high 34-point outing at Detroit on Wednesday. He's had his two highest scoring games of the season in back-to-back games, combining to shoot 23-of-46 from the field and 14-of-32 from 3-point range.
"Last two games are just how I need to play," said Crabbe. "Should have been playing like this from day one. It's just something new. New adjustment, new team, so you want to get a feel for it and see where you can get your spots and where you can be effective. Last two games, not playing with a conscience. Not thinking. Just going out there and hoop. I think it's working well and hopefully I can carry this over."
Crabbe knows there are stretches throughout the season that there's been too much Allen on the court, and not enough AC. He'll hear it from Dinwiddie.
"He'll tell me, back of the plane, you just played like Allen tonight," said Crabbe. "He's good though. I want people to tell me that I can give more and I can do more. That's just how it is."
On Saturday night, Dinwiddie had no complaints.
"We finally saw AC, and then we saw AC again tonight," said Dinwiddie. "And we're hoping that we continue to see AC and we don't see Allen again."