ATLANTA — Spencer Dinwiddie was the Nets’ breakout player in the first half of the season, and Jahlil Okafor was their huge trade acquisition a month ago. Those two combined to give the Nets a fourth-quarter boost they desperately needed to snap a three-game losing streak with a 110-105 victory over the Hawks on Friday night.
Dinwiddie had 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to fall one board short of a triple-double, and he scored eight of the Nets’ final 16 points as they overcame a 99-94 deficit.
Okafor scored six points in a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter for an 85-80 lead. He totaled 17 points in 12 minutes, shot 6-for-8 and had 11 points in the fourth quarter before going to the bench for the final 5:26.
Coming off a blowout loss to Detroit and two tight losses to Boston and Toronto, it was a huge bounce-back win for the Nets (16-26) to begin the second half of their season.
“It was big-time,” Dinwiddie said. “We had the losing streak, two heartbreaking losses and a very poor showing against Detroit.”
With the Nets trailing by five, Dinwiddie hit a three-pointer with 2:20 left to begin their 16-6 finishing kick. They were down one with less than a minute to play when Dennis Schröder, who topped Atlanta (11-31) with 34 points, missed a layup. Dinwiddie rebounded and drove the length of the court for a layup but missed the foul shot. He rebounded his miss, was fouled and made two shots for a 108-105 lead with 9.1 seconds to go.
“I got the rebound and turned to push,” Dinwiddie said. “We didn’t have the numbers, but it was a break and Kenny didn’t call timeout.”
As coach Kenny Atkinson explained, “Go. That’s our philosophy. They can do better than me drawing up a play in the halfcourt . . . Spencer was big. He made the step-back three, the drive-and-one. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
At the end, Schröder surprisingly drove to the basket rather than kick to a shooter at the three-point line. DeMarre Carroll met him and forced a turnover that led to a finishing dunk by Caris LeVert.
The Nets had four other players in double figures, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson totaling 14 points.
Until Friday night, Okafor had played sparingly, but he made the most of his time against the Hawks and had a huge impact to start the fourth quarter.
“I’m happy his work paid off,” Atkinson said. “He gave us a boost. We ran a lot of pick-and-roll, and he can be a beast. I loved his play and I loved how he fit.”
Okafor loved the chance to contribute at the end. “I got easy baskets with my teammates dropping the ball off to me,” he said. “I’m playing with some really good guards who make my life easier.”