INDIANAPOLIS — As the clock wound down and the Nets crept within two points of the Pacers six times without getting over the hump, Spencer Dinwiddie had one thought running through his mind on a night when he was shooting 3-for-14:
“I kept thinking I was going to blow the game because we were playing so well collectively and had a pretty good defensive effort as well. I was like, ‘C’mon man, you can’t be the one that blows this thing.’”
Not only did he not blow it, but after assisting on a go-ahead three-pointer by Joe Harris only to see Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis convert a layup at the other end for a one-point lead with 9.9 seconds to go. Dinwiddie came through big-time, hitting a 21-foot jumper with 3.8 seconds left to give the Nets a 106-105 victory Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Nets had lost six straight games to teams with winning records and were coming off a heartbreaking one-point loss to the defending champion Raptors Saturday in Toronto. This marked their first road win of the season over a winning team even though it was the sixth straight loss for the Pacers (31-23), which is their longest losing streak since the 2016-17 season.
Dinwiddie normally would hesitate to take a mid-range jump shot during the game because he knows coach Kenny Atkinson dislikes them, but the final seconds is different.
“At the end of the game, there’s no rules,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s like playing one-on-one, just me and you. The shot was just an iso, get the shot off with enough time for [DeAndre Jordan] to rebound it, give yourself another chance.
“That’s what I tried to do, and [Malcolm] Brogdon kept backing up, so I went to a pull-up. If he had pressed up, I probably would have drove it. You just read the game and read the defense. I love playing one-on-one. That’s my thing.”
The Pacers had one last chance with 2.7 seconds left. Brogdon inbounded to Sabonis, who handed the ball back to Brogdon. Dinwiddie was on Brogdon, but switched to Sabonis on the handoff while 6-11 center Jordan stepped out to make it tough for Brogdon who threw up an airball.
“We wanted to switch,” Jordan said. “Malcolm took the ball out and Sabonis handed it off. I was trying to wait until he actually gave him the ball because I didn’t want him to fake it and slip \[past\]. I just jumped out there and Spencer did a good job of making them fumble it. I just wanted to get a good fly-by contest.”
Dinwiddie led a season-high eight Nets (24-28) in double figures with 21 points and 11 assists, Harris had 15 points, and Jordan had 11 points and 19 rebounds to help the Nets dominate the boards, 53-40.
Sabonis topped the Pacers (31-23) with 23 points, and T.J. Warren had 19. The Nets held Victor Oladipo, who generally was covered by Dinwiddie, to 12 points and 5-for-14 shooting.
Despite shooting only 40.2 percent from the field, the Nets led most of the game until the Pacers finished the third quarter on an 11-1 run for an 80-77 lead that grew to six midway through the fourth. But Dinwiddie scored 11 points in the final period.
“We did everything well this game but shoot the ball,” Atkinson said. “I thought our defensive grit was great. In the fourth quarter, we only turned it over twice. Guys made plays; that’s what it comes down to in the NBA at the end of the game. You make plays, one team does, the other kinda goes home not too happy. That’s just how it rolls.
". . . The chemistry was great, we had a lot of guys contribute, and defensively, we were really good. That’s what really kept us in the game. Spencer getting to the free throw line 15 times kind of saved us offensively. Great, great group effort.”