DETROIT — Spencer Dinwiddie was fired up.
Hours after having it confirmed he had been the victim of a bad call on Tuesday night, Dinwiddie made sure there was no chance for him or his team to be victimized Wednesday.
Dinwiddie dished out a career-high-tying 16 assists — including 10 in the first quarter — to push the Nets to an important 123-108 win over the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
The victory means that if the Nets win one of their two remaining games — they host Orlando on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday — they will clinch the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot.
The Nets now have a 1 ½ game lead over the seventh-place Miami Heat, who were idle on Wednesday. The Nets own the tiebreaker with the Heat, meaning if the Heat lose in Philadelphia on Thursday, the Nets will clinch before they win another game.
“We’re pros and we had to flush that game and move on,” Dinwiddie said. “It was a new game and a new challenge and we wanted to be able to get a win and control our own destiny with two games to go.”
The Nets had six players score in double figures. Mikal Bridges led them with 26 points and Nic Claxton added 19.
Royce O’Neale, who found out less than an hour before the game that he was starting in place of the injured Dorian Finney-Smith (bruised right wrist) had 15 points and eight assists.
Joe Harris scored 18 points, 16 of which came in the first quarter.
“After we found out about Dorian not being able to play, we had to go to Royce and get him ready and prepared,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And boy, was he prepared. He hit some big shots for us tonight. Spencer with 16 assists was really sharing the ball. The ball didn’t go in for him but he was still attacking. We also got over 40 threes up which speaks to how he was sharing the basketball and creating the shot selections we got. Overall, we had a lot of good contributions from a lot of guys.”
Dinwiddie’s 10 assists in the first quarter were the most by any player in the NBA in any quarter this season. He has led the league in assists since the All-Star break and he also had 16 assists on March 16 against Denver.
Since quarter stats were first tracked in 1996-97, Dinwiddie is the third Net to have 10 assists in a period. Jason Kidd did it in 2008 and Robert Pack did it in 1996.
“Yeah, I think there early on he was doing an unbelievable job is finding guys,” Harris said. “He created a lot of opportunities just by getting downhill, a lot of paint touches. . . . He did a really good job getting everybody going.”
The Nets came out like a team that was determined to put Tuesday night’s ugly loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves behind them.
With 8.7 seconds left in that game, Dinwiddie didn’t get a call when he was fouled by Anthony Edwards on what could have been a game-winning three. Wednesday afternoon, the NBA agreed with Dinwiddie saying in its Last Two Minute Report that Edwards had indeed made contact that impacted the shot.
Harris also had a big first quarter, going 6-for-8 from downtown. His six three-pointers matched his own mark for the most threes scored in a quarter as he also did it Feb. 9 against Chicago.
The Nets finished the half shooting 60% en route to a 74-57 lead at intermission. They managed to extend the lead to 19 points early in the third quarter before R.J. Hampton got hot and hit three straight three-pointers to help cut the Nets’ lead to 96-90 at the end of three.
Detroit cut the lead to four points early in the fourth quarter before the Nets came roaring back and took control of the game by outscoring the Pistons, 27-18, in the final period.
“We took a punch in the third and came back,” Vaughn said. “That’s what I wanted to see.”
Now, he’d like to see one more win.