The question for the Nets when this season began was how Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell would coexist as point guards sharing the same starting backcourt. But in the wake of a season-ending knee injury to Lin in the opener and Russell’s arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday morning, Nets fans would have to agree it’s Spencer Dinwiddie’s team for the time being.
Dinwiddie scored 25 points, including a career-best 6-for-10 effort from three-point range, and had eight assists and zero turnovers to lead the Nets to a 118-107 win over Utah on Friday night at Barc lays Center. The Nets let a 22-point third-quarter lead slip to nine going to the fourth quarter, but Dinwiddie led a 15-9 run to open the quarter.
“That was huge,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We got Spencer back in the game to get us organized and stabilized. It’s good for our morale, good for our confidence, but it’s not a surprise. We’ve talked all year that Spencer has made a step in development.”
The Nets (6-9) also got 18 points from Allen Crabbe, 17 from DeMarre Carroll, 14 from Trevor Booker and 10 from Caris LeVert. They shot 50.6 percent from the field, including a 17-for-37 performance from three-point range, totaled 27 assists and forced 16 Utah turnovers they converted into 22 points.
Utah (6-10), which lost for the seventh time in eight games, was led by Raul Neto’s 22 points.
In the first quarter, the Nets gained control with a 20-2 run that included 5-for-6 three-point shooting for a 37-22 lead. They led for the final 41:04, and the lead reached a season high of 22 points early in the third quarter after an 8-0 burst that included threes by Dinwiddie and Crabbe.
A 19-9 Jazz run cut the Nets’ lead to 89-80 heading to the fourth quarter, but Dinwiddie stepped up on a day when the Nets learned Russell will be out for several weeks. “I didn’t do anything different because of his surgery, but I’d like to think we won for him, though,” Dinwiddie said. “Because our heart goes out to him as our teammate and our brother. We feel for him in this time.”
As for how the Nets closed out the win, Dinwiddie added: “I think we showed great resiliency in that moment. Sometimes young teams fold in those situations against good defensive teams like Utah . . . To control the game from start to finish shows us what is possible.”