DALLAS — Desperate times call for desperate measures. Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie picked up his fourth and fifth fouls on consecutive defensive possessions with the Nets clinging to a one-point lead with 5:49 left in the game. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson rolled the dice and left his floor general in the game and was rewarded handsomely.
Dinwiddie scored five straight points to give the Nets a six-point lead with 5:00 left and they made it stand up down the stretch on their way to a 109-104 victory over the Mavericks Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. The victory gave the Nets a winning 2-1 road trip, their first such trip of the season.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said the debate over whether or not to take Dinwiddie out was a short one. “We debated it, but we felt like we needed him,” Atkinson said. “He’s too important to us. We had to take a risk. He gets to the rim at will.”
Despite his foul trouble, that’s exactly what Dinwiddie did. First, he scored on a driving layup that turned into a three-point play when he was fouled, and then, he got to the rim for a putback on his own missed jump shot. That sequence triggered a 15-8 run in which he scored seven points and Trevor Booker had six as the Nets pushed their lead to 103-95.
“I’m not usually a guy who gets offensive fouls,” Dinwiddie said. “I was a little upset [about the fouls he picked up]. Part of being an elite point guard, which is what I want to be, is that you have to feel you can get your shot at any time. I decided I was going to get a layup, and so I did.”
It got hairy when Devin Harris hit a jumper with 18.5 seconds left to cut the Mavs’ deficit to two. The Mavs fouled Joe Harris, who hit the first but missed the second, which was tipped in the air by Booker and recovered by DeMarre Carroll near the sideline. The Mavs fouled Dinwiddie, who missed both with 7.4 seconds to go, but for the second time on the possession, Booker directed the rebound to a teammate, and Dinwiddie converted two foul shots to put it out of reach. The Nets made only 14 of 25 free throws.
“Booker knows we’re going to miss the free throws, so he’s going to go all out to get those offensive rebounds,” Atkinson said only half-joking. “He saved the game.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, “What Booker did to us on the boards was robbery. He really singlehandedly took the game from us there at the end.”
Carroll led the Nets (8-13) with 22 points, including 15 in the third quarter when the Nets gained an 80-76 lead and never gave it up. Dinwiddie had 19 plus six assists, Booker had 16 and 10 rebounds, Caris LeVert scored 13 and Harris had 11. Harrison Barnes led the Mavs (6-16) with 17 points, and Maxi Kleber had 16. The Nets outscored the Mavs in the paint, 58-46.
Carroll returned to the starting lineup for the Nets after missing Monday’s game in Houston with an illness, but for the third straight game, the Nets were without starters Allen Crabbe (sore lower back) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (sprained ankle). Still, they managed to come away with the win for a winning road trip.
“It was definitely important,” Dinwiddie said. “Coach stressed that we’re trying to be a good team, and a good team would expect to go to into Dallas and end this road trip 2-1. He set the precedent, and it was on us to follow suit as a team, and we were fortunate enough to do that.”