2. Dudley puts up a fight for his job
There was speculation entering Wednesday night’s game that Jared Dudley might lose his spot with the starting unit in favor of Ed Davis or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in order to give the Brooklyn Nets better defense and rebounding at the expense of Dudley’s floor spacing and ball movement.
But when the game began, there was Dudley making his eighth consecutive start of the season.
His stat line won’t overwhelm anyone — Dudley finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists and was just 2-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-6 from deep.
But Dudley took on a Herculean task defensively, first being asked to guard 6-foot-10 Blake Griffin, who came in averaging 27.7 points per game, and later on stepping up in weight class to defend 6-foot-11 Andre Drummond for the duration of overtime.
Griffin finished with 25 points, but he did much of that damage later in the game when Dudley had moved off of him. Through the first three quarters, much of it against Dudley, Griffin was 3-for-10 and had scored 12 points.
With Jarrett Allen already fouled out and Davis with five fouls, coach Kenny Atkinson opted to go super-small in overtime, rolling with Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert at the guards, Joe Harris and Hollis-Jefferson at the forwards and Dudley in the middle.
Griffin scored seven of Detroit’s nine points in overtime matched against Hollis-Jefferson. Drummond scored the other two on a pair of free throws and did not get an offensive board in the final five minutes against Dudley.
And Dudley’s lone 3-pointer came at a big moment. The Nets trailed 117-114 with 1:12 remaining in overtime when Hollis-Jefferson penetrated and kicked out to Dudley in the right corner. The splashdown tied the game and gave Brooklyn a chance to steal it at the end.
Dudley does not have a reputation as anything more than an average defender, but on this night, in this situation, he gave the Nets all he had and all they needed.