SAN ANTONIO — Even though the Pelicans had lost 12 straight before facing the Nets Tuesday in New Orleans, it felt like something akin to a miracle when the Nets pulled out a108-101 overtime victory. The Nets shot poorly from three-point range for the fifth consecutive game, converting only 28.2% (11 of 39), and the worst of all those attempts came at the end of regulation when Spencer Dinwiddie launched a three from 29 feet out, six feet beyond the arc.
In the end, it was a blip on the radar, but coach Kenny Atkinson said that it was far from the ideal shot and, in the postgame locker room, it was a source of hilarity among the Nets. As is his custom, Dinwiddie stepped to the plate and explained his reasoning when questioned by the media, and he made some valid points.
“I miss it, they throw it long, sprint, maybe a foul,” Dinwiddie said, considering the Pelicans’ well-documented ability to get downcourt quickly for a shot. “So I said, ‘OK, I know Josh [Hart] is a pretty overzealous defender. If it leaves my hand with two or one on the shot clock, there’s only two seconds left. If it hits the rim and bounces in the air, the only thing left is for Jarrett [Allen] to tip it in or for them to launch it full court.
“Obviously, [Hart] ended up sitting on my lap by the time the shot was fired. I’m still confused as to how that worked. The game should have been over [had a foul been called]. That was the whole thought process.”
At that point, Nets teammate Theo Pinson started moaning in the background, chiding Dinwiddie for trying to explain away a desperation shot as opposed to a driving attempt at which he excels. But Dinwiddie insisted the non-call against Hart was wrong.
“It was a blatant foul,” Dinwiddie said. “Can we look at the Last Two-Minute Report? I want to see them explain that away because he was sitting in my lap literally.”
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the NBA’s Last Two-Minute Report said it was a correct non-call. Dinwiddie has a history of beefs with officials, and in many cases, he has been right.
Starting from where he did as a G-League refugee when the Nets signed him, the respect he receives from officials has lagged behind the respect he receives from players and coaches who now are touting him as a potential All-Star for the way he has played in leading the Nets to an 11-5 record since Kyrie Irving went down with a shoulder injury before the Nets faced the Spurs Thursday night at AT&T Center.
Despite the poor result of that shot, Dinwiddie scored six overtime points and totaled 31 to lead the win over the Pelicans. He has been on fire since assuming the starting point guard role, averaging 24.3 points and 7.4 assists per game, both of which rank fifth in the Eastern Conference in that time span, and he ranks sixth for the season in the NBA in drives per game (17.3).
When the Nets defeated the 76ers at home on Sunday, Dinwiddie recorded a highlight reel dunk that prompted teammate Joe Harris to say Dinwiddie is the most athletic player in the NBA who doesn’t always use his athleticism. But Dinwiddie doesn’t care about that as much as he cares about winning.
Asked why he doesn’t dunk more, Dinwiddie said it makes him expend more energy for two points.
He related it to the All-Star buzz he is generating. “For me, it’s going to be like a team award…A couple more dunks ain’t going to get me there. Why use the energy? Two points is two points.”