The Nets added another coveted pelt to their collection on Wednesday night. Already they had wins over the Cavaliers, Wizards and Thunder — teams laden with talent — and now they have added the Timberwolves.
Spencer Dinwiddie drained a fadeaway jumper from the wing with 9.7 seconds to play for the final points of a 98-97 win over Minnesota before 16,215 at Barclays Center.
Once buried on the depth chart behind Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie is now shouldering the load like a go-to player. He missed a big late shot against Indiana but on this play he drove the ball against Taj Gibson and made the shot. He also gave the Nets a two-point lead with 1:11 left on an almost identical shot from the left wing before Minnesota’s next possession resulted in three Jimmy Butler free throws for a pair of fouls on Quincy Acy (one deliberate).
“I just missed the one in Indiana. With this I was just like ‘I’ll drive this,’ ” Dinwiddie said. “Taj was trying to limit the pull up three. He was pretty close, so that’s why I decided to drive. He stepped up so I drove him.
“We really need to get out of these situations. These do-or-die situations where people are either going to say I am crazy or yay? I’d rather just win a game by 10.”
Minnesota’s final possession ended with Butler missing on a jumper from the wing that was intensely contested by DeMarre Carroll.
“Jimmy Butler beat us last year on an isolation play in Chicago. We were debating whether to double him or let DeMarre play him one-on-one,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It’s a big reason DeMarre’s here. He’s got the elite defensive reputation. His contest was unbelievable . . . He rose with him. I told him ‘for a 31-year-old it was a heck of a job.’ He had to use all of his jump tonight. A normal contest? Jimmy Bulter makes that shot.”
The Nets improved to 10-0 this season when holding opponents to under 100 points.
The Nets also unveiled recently acquired big man Jahlil Okafor to the home crowd for the first time. Okafor was acquired along with Nik Stauskas and a second-round draft pick from Philadelphia in the Dec. 7 trade of Trevor Booker. He had played in only one game and Atkinson decided to hold him out as he learned the Nets’ system and improved his conditioning. It was decided this week that Wednesday night he would play with modest expectations.
“For me, we totally understand where he’s coming from and how it takes time to get your rhythm,” Atkinson said. “But listen, he’s looked good in our lead up here. We’ve tried to create a lot of game situations for him.”
Okafor played at the start of the second and fourth quarters. When he entered the game, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, the top pick in the 2015 draft, patted Okafor (No. 3 pick) on the rump as a greeting. In 11 minutes total, Okafor had two points and two rebounds.
“I felt pretty comfortable in the system,” Okafor said.
Dinwiddie had 26 points and nine assists, Joe Harris had 17 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 points for the Nets, who somehow survived committing 20 turnovers that resulted in 24 Minnesota points. Butler scored 30 and Andrew Wiggins scored 17 for the Timberwolves.
Dinwiddie’s go-ahead jumper came as the shot clock expired. Atkinson said maybe this win, the third straight at home, is the start of the Nets progressing.
“It gives a boost to our confidence,” he said. “We want to make another step. It’s two things: beating really good teams, especially here at home, and consistency.”