PHOENIX — The Nets have shown a penchant for blowing leads, and when it looked as if they might do it again at the start of the third quarter Friday night in Portland, coach Kenny Atkinson called a quick timeout. He replaced Caris LeVert with Spencer Dinwiddie, who proceeded to score every point in a 15-6 Nets run to regain control.
Atkinson said that was the “old Spencer” that he hopes to see more often.
“He’s huge,” Atkinson said before his team’s 138-112 loss to the Suns on Sunday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Dinwiddie led the Nets with 18 points.
“I think he’s an ‘X’ factor. You see the other night what it does to our team. His explosiveness to the rim and when he’s shooting the ball with confidence, it really helps our team. We needed to get him going. I think he felt that, and he stepped up big-time.”
Dinwiddie said there have been times in the past when he knew he had to step up because Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell or LeVert was hurt. Now that Atkinson is juggling free agent Kyrie Irving, LeVert and Dinwiddie in the backcourt, one of the league’s best sixth men understands there is plenty of scoring around him and is trying to determine his role.
He was surprised to learn he scored 15 straight Nets points during a 34-point night against Portland.
“It wasn’t like Spencer saying, ‘OK, I’m going to go get 15 straight,’ ” Dinwiddie said. “That’s not my role on this team. For me, it’s whatever is needed at the time. I just try to pick up the slack.
“If Caris is saying, ‘I need you to drive it’ or Ky is saying, ‘I need you to shoot,’ whatever it is, I’m kind of the amoeba out there. I fit in wherever I’m supposed to be. Some nights are going to be bigger than others. That’s what happens when you kind of move around.”