Spencer Dinwiddie, like so many of us, likes to load up on a second meal of leftovers the night of Thanksgiving. So the Nets guard wasn’t exactly thrilled when the NBA came out with a schedule that had his Nets host the Boston Celtics at noon on the Friday after the big holiday.
“Y’all didn’t have to make the game this early,” Dinwiddie tweeted in the morning on his way to Barclays Center.
As much as he wasn’t a fan of the early start and the fact that he said he had to limit his second meal to mostly salad, it certainly didn’t show Friday. Dinwiddie paired 32 points with a season-high 11 assists to lead the Nets to a 112-107 win over the Celtics.
“He’s playing as good as anyone in the NBA right now, in my humble opinion,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
The game was billed as a payback of sorts for the Nets’ 121-110 loss in Boston on Wednesday night. Kyrie Irving, who has missed eight straight games with a shoulder impingement, was not at the game in Boston against his former team, but he was on the bench Friday in street clothes.
With Irving out, Dinwiddie, the Eastern Conference player of the week last week, has been the team’s primary ballhandler. On Friday, he was two points shy of his season high. He shot 6-for-8 from three-point range, went 6-for-6 from the line, had two steals and blocked two shots.
Dinwiddie became the first Nets player to get at least 30 points and 10 assists in the same game since Stephon Marbury on Feb. 8, 2000, at Meadowlands Arena and the fifth player in franchise history to do so.
He also helped set the tone on defense by helping to aggressively guard Kemba Walker. The guard, who scored 39 points in the Celtics’ win over the Nets in Boston, was held to 17 points and 6-for-19 shooting Friday.
The Nets (10-9) are 6-2 without Irving. The win over the Celtics was an important one because it was the first victory in the stretch against a team with a better-than-.500 record. All five of the Nets’ starters finished in double figures.
The Celtics (13-5) are tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference but have lost four of their last seven games. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points.
Before the game, Boston coach Brad Stevens talked about the importance of his team starting off strong. It was the Nets, however, who took a 14-point first-quarter lead. The Celtics had six turnovers in the first period and 19 overall.
The Celtics made a number of runs after that, but the Nets’ defense was able to clamp down and end them each time.
“Obviously, we got more stops,” Dinwiddie said when asked about the difference between this game and the one the team lost in Boston.
Dinwiddie is averaging 20.2 points, a significant jump from last season, when he averaged what was then a career-best 16.8 points.
Atkinson said he can see Dinwiddie’s confidence grow every game.
“I’ve always felt with Spencer that he didn’t know how good he was,” Atkinson said. “You’d be surprised as talented as he is that his confidence is just growing. This kind of scenario he is in right now with running the team, I think it’s going to give him more confidence. When Kyrie comes back, it’s going to give us a team with more depth and a more powerful team.”