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Nets hang on for fourth straight win after 16-point lead nearly melts away

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie shoots a three-point basket

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie shoots a three-point basket over Washington Wizards guard John Wall during the second half on the way to 27 points in the Nets' 125-118 victory on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at Barclays Center. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The art of the blowout has escaped the Nets thus far, but they are making undeniable progress. They let a 16-point fourth-quarter lead slip to four Friday night, but they are getting the hang of this closing thing. The Nets got eight late points from Joe Harris to restore a comfortable cushion on their way to a 125-118 victory over the Wizards at Barclays Center. That gave them a season-high four-game winning streak.

The Nets’ bugaboo of blowing double-digit leads reared its head early in the fourth quarter when the Wizards cut their deficit to 108-104, with Bradley Beal’s jumper with 5:33 left capping a 17-5 run. Beal had nine points and Markieff Morris added eight in that surge.

“It seemed like the momentum was shifting a little bit,” Harris said. “We did a good job of keeping our composure, executing on both ends and then knocking down shots and making plays.”

Harris scored the final eight points in a 12-3 run, including a pair of three-pointers, to give the Nets (12-18) a 125-112 lead at the 1:07 mark. He said they learned the hard way about closing during the eight-game losing streak that preceded their current winning streak.

“When you’re in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, it gets pretty dark,” he said. “But the great thing about the NBA is that everything happens so quickly. You play eight games in two weeks. You get out of the funk, right the ship and we’ve just done a better job of executing down the stretch.”

Spencer Dinwiddie led six Nets in double figures with 27 points and six assists off the bench. Harris added 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and rookie Rodions Kurucs scored 15 each.

It was the first start for Kurucs, who replaced injured Allen Crabbe (right knee soreness). The Nets had a whopping 46-25 rebounding advantage.

Beal topped the Wizards (11-18) with 31 points  and nine assists. John Wall added 17 points and 13 assists.

Dinwiddie and the Nets’ second unit took control with a 43-point second quarter for a 70-59 halftime lead. DeMarre Carroll scored 12 points in the quarter and Dinwiddie, who agreed to a three-year extension worth $34.3 million on Thursday, added 11. Dinwiddie scored nine more points in a 21-11 run to give the Nets a 101-85 third-quarter lead.

It was the third straight game in which Dinwiddie scored at least 25 points. He is averaging 30.3 points in that stretch.

“After everything that happened, the emotions, I thought he took it to another level defensively and offensively,”  coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He was outstanding all-around. You definitely see the growth, the maturity and, quite honestly, leadership capabilities out there. He’s getting better every day.”

New York Sports