Spencer Dinwiddie had his best game since returning from thumb surgery and willed the Brooklyn Nets to a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers with late surge.
The Brooklyn Nets needed a spark entering the fourth quarter Wednesday night at Barclays Center. The Cleveland Cavaliers had once again proven feisty and held a five-point edge at the final quarter break of the night.
Backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie provided that spark, scoring 12 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter while also providing some fireworks with his passing as the Nets stormed back behind a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to beat the Cavaliers 113-107.
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For Dinwiddie, Wednesday was significant, as it was his first star-level performance since he returned Friday after missing 14 games with an injured right thumb.
He finished with five assists, four rebounds, a steal and a block against Cleveland, a lottery-bound team that had quietly won four of its six games since the All-Star break, including a stunner over the playoff-hopeful Orlando Magic.
Dinwiddie was also 10-for-21 overall and 3-for-8 from 3-point range while making 5-of-6 at the line.
He also had a hand in all 14 of Brooklyn’s point during the game-changing 14-0 run in the fourth, scoring nine points and assisting on Rodions Kurucs‘ alley-oop dunk and Joe Harris‘ 3-pointer during the burst.
Dinwiddie’s dime to Kurucs was special, a lob from the half-court line that hit Air Latvia in stride for an uncontested dunk on a fast break chance.
After a Harris 3 and two free throws by Dinwiddie pushed the run to 9-0, the fifth-year guard finished the run with a flourish, first connecting on a corner 3 and then getting a signature finger roll after blowing by Larry Nance Jr., the unfortunate Cleveland center who wound up having to defend Dinwiddie after a switch.
Dinwiddie’s layup gave Brooklyn its biggest lead of the night at 110-94 and they made enough free throws down the stretch — despite some dicey moments — to hold off the stubborn Cavs.
That got the Nets (34-33) back over the .500 mark on the year and secured a 3-1 season-series victory over Cleveland after having beaten the Cavs twice at Quicken Loans Arena earlier this season.
Dinwiddie had put up two decent performances and one clunker in his first three games back, but with his 28 points in 30 minutes off the bench Wednesday, he wrote a new line in the franchise record book.
It was Dinwiddie’s 11th game off the bench this season with at least 25 points, moving him past Bubbles Hawkins, who had 10 such games for the old New York Nets in their first NBA season in 1976-77.
He is averaging 17.2 points, 5.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game over his 53 appearances, shooting 46 percent overall — a career-high — and hitting 35.8 percent on 5.3 3-point attempts per game.
The dynamic with Dinwiddie playing with Caris LeVert on the second unit over the last two games has been a big plus for Brooklyn as well.
The pair combined for 34 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals in Monday’s shellacking of the Dallas Mavericks and followed it up with combined totals of 42 points, eight rebounds, six dimes, two blocks and a steal on Wednesday.
Getting Dinwiddie back to the level he was at before he had to have the surgery in late January to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb could be a huge factor as the Nets attempt to navigate the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule, per Tankathon, over their final 15 games.