Nets need rally in Atlanta to hold off Hawks
ATLANTA — The Nets did everything they could to kick away a win over the Hawks, missing an epic 21 of 54 foul shots. But when former Nets star Vince Carter missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, they counted themselves lucky to escape with a 114-112 victory Saturday night at State Farm Arena.
It was their third straight win and left them in a virtual tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Pistons, who will visit Barclays Center on Monday night.
The Nets won despite a 33-for-54 performance at the line, 38.4 percent shooting from the field and 34.1 percent shooting from three-point range. They also were outrebounded and outscored 62-32 in the paint.
“We dodged a bullet the way we shot the ball and the way we left a ton of points on the board,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Overall, it was a really good defensive performance. That saved us.”
The Nets held the Hawks to 37.1 percent shooting from the field and 19.5 percent from three-point range (8-for-41). John Collins had a monster game for the Hawks (22-45) with 33 points and 20 rebounds and Trae Young had his first career triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but it wasn’t enough.
Spencer Dinwiddie topped seven Nets in double figures with 23 points and added seven assists. Jarrett Allen totaled 20 points and 12 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell had 18 points and six assists. Rodions Kurucs chipped in 16 points and six rebounds.
Since losing three straight games to losing teams below them in the standings, the Nets (35-33) have won three straight against losing teams before taking on the Pistons and beginning a seven-game road trip.
“I think we all knew this was a big week for us,” Atkinson said. “Very important with the two home games and this one was circled on our calendar, the kind of game you have to get. So, mission accomplished. Now we have obviously a bigger game Monday against a team we’re competing with for a playoff spot.”
The Nets mounted a 14-4 surge spanning the third and fourth quarters, with Dinwiddie scoring the final 10 points for an 88-79 lead. The Hawks went ahead by four as the Nets missed five of their next 13 foul shots. But the Nets finished the game with a 9-3 burst, regaining the lead for good on a three-pointer by Russell with 1:39 to play.
The Hawks had one last chance with 16.3 seconds left, but Dinwiddie stayed on top of Young and forced him to kick the ball out to Carter for a deep three that missed at the buzzer. Atkinson said Dinwiddie was supposed to switch off Young but was determined not to let him score.
“With the screen coming and us trying not to give up the three, I took a couple steps longer with Trae Young than I probably should have,” Dinwiddie said, “but at the same time, I figured he wasn’t going to pass unless he had to.”
Dinwiddie agreed with the suggestion that the game was a must-win. “It’s definitely something we talked about prior to the game,” he said. “We’re creating a solid foundation for this tough stretch. Honestly, we just barely got enough stops. We missed a bunch of free throws and made it harder on ourselves than we needed to do.”
There was no mistaking the sense of relief in the Nets’ locker room that they got away with one. “As vets, we preach you’ve got to win these games you’re supposed to win,” DeMarre Carroll said. “It was a great win. It would have been a horrible loss.”