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Nets can't hold on late in loss to Heat

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie drives to the hoop

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie drives to the hoop against Heat forward Jimmy Butler  during the first half at Barclays Center on Sunday. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Spencer Dinwiddie seemed poised for yet another star turn for the Nets after lifting them to an eight-point lead with just over four minutes remaining. But Dinwiddie’s well of inspiration ran dry as the Heat went on a 14-3 run down the stretch to pull out a 109-106 victory Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center.

Dinwiddie hit a pair of foul shots and a three-pointer to give the Nets their biggest lead at 103-95 with 4:24 left, and the Nets still were up seven after Joe Harris’ three-pointer at the 1:45 mark. But those were the final points they scored.

Jimmy Butler hit five of six foul shots in the Heat’s finishing kick, including the go-ahead pair with 29.7 seconds left. The Nets missed their final five shots, including a wide-open three-pointer by Harris from the top of the arc with 38 seconds to go and a one-point lead and a layup by Dinwiddie with 12 seconds left and a one-point deficit.

“We had opportunities, tons of opportunities,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They made plays, we didn’t. Just one of those see-saw games.”

Atkinson set up a play that got Harris (5-for-9 from three-point range) wide-open, but it went in and out. “It’s been a successful play, and we got a great look,” Atkinson said. “I’d do it 100 out of 100 times, same play.”

Later, Dinwiddie was able to drive past athletic Heat big man Bam Adebayo for the potential go-ahead layup, but it fell off the rim.

“It was obvious who we were going at,” Atkinson said, “and when we did get Bam out there at the three-point line guarding Spencer, Spencer got downhill and we missed. Simple as that.”

Sometimes it’s a make-or-miss league, and this was one of those times.

Dinwiddie led the Nets (10-10) with 29 points but left the potential tying three-pointer short at the buzzer. Harris added 25, and the Nets got an outstanding 15-point, eight-rebound contribution from DeAndre Jordan off the bench.

Goran Dragic topped the Heat (14-5) with 24 points, Butler scored 20 and Adebayo had 17 points and 16 rebounds. They made up for 38.9 percent shooting with a 21-10 margin in second-chance points.

The Nets are 6-3 without injured Kyrie Irving. Before the game, Atkinson said he is making progress toward recovery from a right shoulder impingement.

“With Kyrie, the good news is he’s on court now and working,” Atkinson said. “No contact yet, but I do feel better than a week ago that it’s progressing in the right direction.”

The Nets continued to rely on Dinwiddie, and he delivered yet again. He had 16 points in the first half to help the Nets build a 65-58 lead, but the margin was 53-39 when he was on the floor.

“Right now, Spencer is our best player,” Harris said. “We live and die with him making plays. He did everything we asked from him. We had some tough, contested shots, and the ball didn’t go down.”

Dinwiddie faulted the Nets for putting Butler at the foul line three times in the final 1:07, but he was satisfied with the execution that produced Harris’ three-point attempt and his layup opportunity.

Asked if the Nets lost it or the Heat won it, Dinwiddie said, “Both. They’re a good team. Jimmy got to the foul line. He did what he does. We had two good looks at the basket we should have made.

“If Joe hits the three and I hit the layup, it’s a completely different ballgame. If we don’t foul them and put Jimmy on the line three times, we win the ballgame. It’s a little bit of both.”

New York Sports