Brooklyn Nets: Jared Dudley the difference-maker late

Brooklyn Nets Jared Dudley (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jared Dudley (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

If you looked at the Brooklyn Nets roster for a guy to close a game with a double-digit 4th quarter, Jared Dudley isn’t the 1st pick. He was the guy Tuesday.

Jared Dudley wasn’t the best player on the floor Tuesday night for the Brooklyn Nets. But when the chips were down and the Nets needed to close out a 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Dudley came up big.

The 33-year-old scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter with an array of layups and jump shots that helped Brooklyn to its sixth consecutive victory.

Dudley won’t dazzle with athleticism, but he was an assassin with the veteran know-how thing.

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At one point, he stunned Laker defender Josh Hart with a fake at the 3-point line before driving down the wide open lane for a rim-rocking slam dunk  nice fundamental layup.

Later, he kept an offensive rebound alive, then retreated to the corner. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson found Dudley in that corner, but Lonzo Ball‘s closeout left the baseline wide open, so Dudley went to the rim again for … yeah, another layup.

With less than a minute remaining and the Lakers having pulled to within three points of Brooklyn, Dudley read a mixup by the Los Angeles defense on a switch, stepped back and knocked down a long jumper to push the lead back to five (he had a toe on the line, so knock some style points off).

Defensively, he pressured Kyle Kuzma into a key miss on a drive and did what he does often at that end of the court — put himself in the right place at the right time.

Dudley made 5-of-6 shots in the quarter — playing the entire period — to go with three rebounds and a steal while helping the young Nets across the finish line with a significant victory.

For the game, Dudley played 24 minutes and finished with 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal, hitting 6-of-8 overall and 1-of-3 from deep.

After starting Brooklyn’s first 20 games of the season, he was benched in favor of Hollis-Jefferson. But he’s embraced the new role and is excelling at it of late, scoring 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting in his last two games.

After averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game as a starter and shooting 37.5 percent overall and 30.6 percent from long range in that role, Dudley is averaging 5.3 points and 2.3 boards in 17.5 minutes as a reserve, shooting 51.1 percent overall and 32 percent from deep.

He’s definitely doing more with less playing time.

And he understands the situation well enough to recognize what his big night will be met with.

Coach Kenny Atkinson had a little bit of fun with his club’s oldest player, telling the media:

"“He’s that guy at the park. He’s got tattered sneakers, he’s 42 years old, but he stays on the court because his team is winning.”"

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For a guy in his 12th NBA season who narrowly avoided a buyout from the Phoenix Suns last summer before being traded to Brooklyn, that might just be the ultimate compliment.