Russell, Dinwiddie, and LeVert Take Turns to Lift Nets over Cleveland
Guard trio combines for 67 points and shoots 47 percent from 3-point range
D'Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie each took a turn roasting the Cleveland Cavaliers and lifting the Brooklyn Nets to their 113-107 win on Wednesday night.
For LeVert and Dinwiddie, those moments came in the fourth quarter as the Nets erased a five-point deficit and sprinted away with a decisive 30-9 run from the start of the quarter.
"Caris (LeVert) had an important stretch there when we were struggling and couldn’t really score," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "He made some big plays, started to get downhill, and obviously, Spencer (Dinwiddie) too. Those two guys, I thought they turned it up. Our offense, we’re struggling. And we really needed those two guys tonight. I think they did a good job.”
The trio combined for more than half of Brooklyn's scoring on the night — 67 points — while combining to shoot 45 percent overall and 47 percent (10-for-21) from 3-point range.
Dinwiddie had 28 points, Russell 25 and LeVert 14. This was the follow-up to Monday night's win over Dallas, when Russell had a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, LeVert scored 18 points and Dinwiddie had 16. LeVert and Dinwiddie each had five assists as well against the Mavericks.
"D'Lo's job is to go out there and set the tone, especially with Caris and myself coming back from injury, we've got to figure it out," said Dinwiddie. "We've got to step in and fill in the gaps. Just be aggressive and play to our strengths. When he starts off aggressive, it sets the tone. When Caris comes in and he's aggressive, it helps him be him quicker than if he's passing."
Against Cleveland, Russell scored 13 of Brooklyn's first 16 points in the third quarter, keeping the Nets close as Cleveland surged from five down at halftime. Russell's score in the lane brought Brooklyn within 73-71 with 4:30 to go in the quarter.
Dinwiddie scored 19 points in the game's final 16 minutes, starting with seven of Brookyn's final nine points of the third quarter.
To open the fourth, LeVert scored nine of Brookyn's first 16 points as the Nets surged into the lead. He had two threes in the burst, the second one putting the Nets up 96-92.
With the Nets up 96-94, Dinwiddie took it from there, scoring nine points in the 14-0 run that sealed the game, adding in a halfcourt alley-oop to Rodions Kurucs to spice things up as well.
"We stuck with what we're doing," said Atkinson. "That was more Spencer pushing the pace and getting in pick and roll and getting downhill. Since Spencer's been back, what I've been really pleased with is just how he's pushing the ball. That's what we're encouraging him to do. Get out in the open court. He's a speed demon, he's a dragster out there. It's hard to keep up with him. And keep driving it to the rim. So he did those things. Thought it was a game-changer for us."
This was the second game of a lineup shuffle that moved LeVert back into a reserve role. Dinwiddie has been one of the league's most effective players off the bench all season, making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year until thumb surgery cost him a month of action.
Dinwiddie returned on March 1. LeVert came back Feb. 8 after missing three months with a foot dislocation. He came off the bench for two games, then started the next seven before coming off the bench in the last two.
"I told Caris, look, in the second unit, we score the ball," said Dinwiddie. "That's what we do. When you get out there, run, I'm going to kick it to you, and I don't want you looking back unless they stop you. So go out there and get buckets."
Russell, Dinwiddie and LeVert are three of top of Brooklyn's five scorers this season, their most effective players at breaking down a defense and creating offense. Games like the last two nights, with strong offensive contributions from each across 48 minutes, are the ideal of what the Nets are looking for.
"I think being a young group and finally being healthy, we're going to continue to find ourselves," said Dinwiddie. "It's been an exploratory process this whole season and we're hopefully entering the final phase of that and we can tighten the screws and get to where we need to go over the last 17 games now and be a force in the playoffs."
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