NEW ORLEANS — It took everything the Nets had in their tank. Every starter played at least 34 minutes, and they all played the final 13:50 of the game except for a brief five-second breather for Jarrett Allen, but somehow, they found the will to pull out a 108-101 overtime victory over the Pelicans Tuesday night at Smoothie King Arena.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored six of his game-high 31 points in the extra session, Joe Harris had five of his 24 points in the overtime, and Jarrett Allen totaled 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. It was the second straight win for the Nets (15-12), but they had to overcome 28.2 three-point shooting (11-of-39) and a tough combined 3-for-23 shooting night by stalwarts Garrett Temple and Taurean Prince. Brandon Ingram topped the Pelicans (6-22) with 22 points and Jrue Holiday added 21, but the Nets harried that pair into a combined 16-for-51 shooting effort. In the fourth quarter and OT, the Nets shot 61.3 percent (19 of 31).
“Both teams were throwing rocks out there,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Our defense again saved us. Great job on Ingram, great job on Holiday, getting their percentages down. I thought [Allen and De Andre Jordan] were monumental at the rim. Offensively, we made some plays at the end, Joe was big, and Spencer got downhill. But we had to work for this one.”
Following a miserable 19-point third quarter, the Nets trailed by seven points early in the final period and were down six when Atkinson returned his starting unit to the floor. Harris immediately hit back-to-back threes to tie the score at 74 with 7:15 left, and the starters made their first seven shots and eight straight overall to take an 82-78 lead on a layup by Dinwiddie with 5:18 left.
Describing the sudden shift in offensive momentum, Dinwiddie said, “We just came up with a little bit of a burst. At some point, you’ve got to make shots. The law of averages says some of them have got to go in. Joe and Taurean are two of the best shooters in the league, so they’re going to make shots.”
One of the biggest shots came out of a replay reversal that gave the Nets possession with 1:28 left and led to a Harris corner three for a 104-98 advantage.
“It’s Kenny coming up with cool stuff,” Dinwiddie said. “We’ll say, ‘Lets’ just get the ball inbounds,’ but he’ll come out with tricky stuff. Up three going for three to put the distance at six with 1:28 to go in the game. If we don’t give up a three [to Ingram at 1:17], the game should be pretty much over.”
But Ingram did respond with a three, and the downtrodden Pelicans rallied to take a two-point lead before an Allen dunk sent the game to overtime tied at 93. A deep three by Dinwiddie was far off the mark at the buzzer.
No doubt the Nets were on fumes while playing their third game in four nights, but Atkinson stuck with his starters far longer than usual. “We subbed them in a little early in the fourth, a little earlier than usual,” Atkinson admitted. “I just felt we needed it. The past games, we built up kind of credit. You save them for games like this, where you’ve got to get a win. They can play 40 minutes. We got fresher as the game went on, especially Spencer.”
There was no way in the world the Nets wanted to absorb a loss to a team that had lost its previous 12 straight, especially before facing the Spurs Thursday in San Antonio, so it made sense for Atkinson to stick with his big guns. “They were a desperate team,” Harris said. “You could sense it. They made stuff tough for us.”