PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Dinwiddie no longer is a regular starter for the Nets this season, but he has become one heck of a finisher. Dinwiddie scored a career-high 39 points in just 30 minutes off the bench as the Nets upset the 76ers, 127-124, for their second three-game win streak of the season Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Dinwiddie’s 15-point third quarter helped the Nets take a 10-point lead to the final period, but the Sixers quickly cut it to five. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson inserted live-wire rookie Rodions Kurucs, and he contributed eight points and a steal in a 13-6 burst that pushed the Nets’ lead to 107-95 with 7:15 to go.
The Nets maintained a comfortable cushion until the final minute when 76ers sub Landry Shamet hit three of three-pointers in the final minute to make it close.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson credited the play of Dinwiddie for sparking the offense, backup center Ed Davis for containing 76ers star Joel Embiid in the second half and Kurucs for his energy at both ends of the court.
“Spencer got hot,” said Atkinson, who has relied upon Dinwiddie as his closing point guard during the winning streak. “That probably was the big number one thing . . . It’s just so evident. You can’t take him out, and he’s playing great basketball. Obviously, he’s our engine right now, especially in the second half.”
Dinwiddie scored his 39 points on 11-of-18 shooting and added five assists to lead the Nets (11-18), who also got 20 points from Allen Crabbe, 14 from Joe Harris and 13 from Kurucs. Embiid topped the 76ers (19-10) with 33 points and 17 rebounds but was limited to 10 second-half points. Ben Simmons added 22 points, Furkan Korkmaz scored 18 and T.J. McConnell had 17 points.
Asked if he was making a statement now that he’s eligible for a four-year contract extension worth as much as $47.5 million that has yet to be offered, Dinwiddie said, “Oh no, I’ll let Ray [agent Raymond Brothers] and Sean [GM Marks] talk about contract. I’m just out here trying to help the Nets win games.”
Dinwiddie simply exploded in the six-plus minutes he played in the third period, scoring 15 points in a 30-10 run that gave the Nets their biggest lead at 92-79. He did it on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
“If I hit two threes in a row, I feel like Steph [Curry],” Dinwiddie said, referring to the Warriors’ star. “I hit a couple threes and, boy, I wasn’t going to stop shooting after that.
The Nets got a break because Sixers star Jimmy Butler, who hit the game-winning three-pointer in a 127-125 just over two weeks earlier, was out with a groin strain, but they still had to contend with Embiid and Simmons. Davis did a great job in place of starter Jarrett Allen slowing Embiid down in the second half when he only took three shots.
“We love Jarrett Allen, but he was having a tough time,” Atkinson said. “It was one of those nights where we had to go with our best matchup . . . The next solution was to get Ed in there, and Ed did a fantastic job.”
The only hint of a wobble down the stretch came in the final minute when Shamet went wild from the three-point line. “We finished the game, we had sound control, we literally played 47 minutes of the game,” Dinwiddie said. “We really finished the game for all intents and purposes except for 50 seconds, which we need to get better at.”