Brooklyn Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie Hits a New High with 39 Points
Averaging 23.2 points, 51.9 percent shooting in last five games
PHILADELPHIA — There wasn't much the Philadelphia 76ers could do to stop Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kenny Atkinson certainly wasn't going to help them out.
"You can't take him out," is how the Brooklyn Nets coach described the way Dinwiddie lifted the Nets, especially in the second half of their 127-124 win over the Sixers. "He's playing great basketball. Obviously, he's our engine right now."
The six consecutive free throws Dinwiddie made in the final minute closed out the Sixers and elevated his career-high scoring night to 39 points as the Nets won their third straight game. The last time the Nets faced Philadelphia, Dinwiddie had matched his previous career-high with 31 points. And in three games against the Sixers this season, the Nets are averaging 124.6 points.
There might be a correlation.
"I think we have the speed to deal with their switching," said Atkinson. "They switch. And Spencer's the leader in the clubhouse with that. They switch on him and then you've got to keep that dude in front of you. That's a tough thing."
It's become one of the defining elements of Dinwiddie's game, the way he punishes big men stranded out on the perimeter with him. Atkinson has called him one of the best drivers in the league and stressed attacking the rim in those situations rather than settling for 3-pointers. It was just such a Dinwiddie drive on Philadelphia's Joel Embiid that extended Brooklyn's lead to 10 points with two minutes remaining.
"My job here is to drive the ball," said Dinwiddie. "Obviously when I get a big man on me, I just try to do my job really. Traditionally I'm faster then most big men, so it becomes a foot race."
The Nets were down early, trailing by as many as nine points, before Dinwiddie and the second unit closed the first-quarter in a rush, putting the Nets up 31-29 at the end of the quarter. His 3-pointer late in the second quarter gave him 12 points for the first half and the Nets a 57-56 lead at the break.
Turned out that was just the warmup.
In the third quarter, Dinwiddie scored 15 points, including 12 of the points in a 19-3 Brooklyn run that gave the Nets an 87-75 lead. Two Dinwiddie threes with an Allen Crabbe triple in between capped the burst.
Two quick threes like that can be all it takes to get Dinwiddie feeling pretty good about the way things are going.
"I don't know if I'd say like I was in a zone, zone," said Dinwiddie. "I told you, I hit two in a row, I think I'm hot. They know. Can ask Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson). We've been in practice before, something like that, first one he's like, 'ooh that was nice.' Second one, he's like, 'uh-oh. I'm telling you.' It's as simple as that. A zone? I feel like maybe 50 is a zone, locked in, shooting like 30 times, you get like 50, 60 points. That's like a zone. I just started feeling like Steph (Curry)."
He added 12 more in the fourth quarter for 27 total in the second half. Dinwiddie finished up shooting 61 percent (11-for-18) overall and 66.6 percent (4-for-6) from 3-point range. He had five assists as well.
"I think he has offensively been able to impose his skill set," said Joe Harris, who credited Dinwiddie's drives for helping open up shooting space for himself and Crabbe. "Like I said, his ability just to be able to finish from all three levels on the floor and I think it's really his ability just to get downhill that opens everything else up for him."
Dinwiddie's huge night followed up a 25-point, six-assist outing against the Knicks. Over his last five games, he's averaging 23.2 points on 51.9 percent shooting, including 39.3 percent from 3-point range, plus 5.0 assists per game.
"All the work he's done, he's come a long way," said Atkinson. "He deserves it."