Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie lines up his three-point shot against...

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie lines up his three-point shot against the Heat in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Monday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

PORTLAND — Spencer Dinwiddie understands the responsibility that comes with playing for the Nets. But his seventh season in Brooklyn has been among his most challenging.

As the Nets have spiraled, with just three wins in the last 16 games entering Wednesday's matchup at the Trail Blazers, Dinwiddie’s struggles stand out. Among qualified players this season, he’s last in the NBA in field goal shooting (38.7%) and seventh-to-last in three-point shooting (31.1%).

He’s also seen his minutes diminish as Dennis Smith Jr. has closed games at point guard in the fourth quarter. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Monday that the shift in Dinwiddie’s playing time is related to performance.

For Dinwiddie, he understands why, as the Nets have tried to shake this swoon that dates back a month.

“We're a team that's gonna shift schemes and lineup stuff on a nightly basis,” Dinwiddie told Newsday at shootaround Wednesday. “So it's just something you have to prepare for as a pro. It's part of the state of our team, you know, just, we're all trying to figure it out."

He noted he’s not taking that many shots, so the percentages look worse. Dinwiddie’s taken six shots or fewer in five of the last six games.

But the misses are adding up. The Nets are 1-7 in their previous eight games before Wednesday and they’ve been outscored by 78 points with Dinwiddie on the floor, the worst plus/minus on the team.

“Some of it, you just got to fight your way through it. Everybody goes through it, but right now I'm taking pretty bad looks on low volume,” Dinwiddie said. “So like, if this is a situation where I was going like 5-for-20 and things of that nature, like costing us games, that'd be one thing, but it's like 1-for-3, 1-for-4.”

His struggles are part of the Nets’ bigger issues on offense where he, Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith have been off target as of late. But Dinwiddie’s the main one whose minutes have been affected.

After losing to the Heat, Vaughn said that going with Smith late in games was about his defensive ability and who was - or wasn’t - producing at the moment. It was an admission.

“That’s just where we are as a team, we’re going to put guys out there who are going to perform,” Vaughn said. “And it’s going to make tough decisions on me to finish the game and that’s just a part of it. Hopefully, that encourages our guys to be ready to go at the beginning of the game and play four quarters.”

Dinwiddie said some of his missed shots are rushed with the shot clock winding down. Before the season, the Nets hoped to alleviate that by pairing him with Ben Simmons in the backcourt to help Dinwiddie thrive as a catch-and-shoot player.

But with Simmons out with a back injury, Dinwiddie’s back in a familiar, less successful role. Bball Index, an analytics site, tweeted on Jan. 7 that Dinwiddie was the fourth-worst guard in three-point shot quality, with the Mavs' Luka Doncic second and the Suns' Devin Booker fifth.

The difference, Dinwiddie said, is Booker and Doncic take more shots, so the bad ones cancel out. In his case, the bad shots stand out more with fewer attempts.

“Now it's a hope, wish and a prayer for your percentage to be good versus another situation where you get to kind of dictate your shots, teams dictate your looks, you know, mix in some layups or things of that nature,” Dinwiddie said.

Either way, he knows he has to make shots. It’s a problem facing the Nets as a whole, but with Dinwiddie’s minutes changing, it’s a challenge he has to figure out soon.

“I’m going to continue to try to do what's in the best interest of the team in terms of being unselfish in those moments and hoping that I can hit the good looks as well,” Dinwiddie said.

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