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Nets vs. Rockets: Dinwiddie Changes the Mood with Houston Due in Brooklyn

Spencer Dinwiddie gave the Brooklyn Nets a big shot and a big stop, and with those came a big win on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, one that halted a three-game slide after the Nets had split their first four games.

“That was the only thing that made this win really big for us was because of the losing streak,” said Dinwiddie after the game. “Because of what we’re fighting for and trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past. You’ve got to learn to get out of a rut quickly, because they can string together and it can affect morale.”

So thanks to Dinwiddie, the Nets are not carrying a four-game losing streak into tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. They get a reset coming off a comeback win. Trailing by seven with under four minutes to go, they pushed it to overtime on Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer, then won it on another Dinwiddie triple, the one that gave him 25 for the game.

They also got a season-high 23 points from Joe Harris, who made 4-of-7 3-pointers and is shooting 62.8 percent from deep over the last seven games. The Nets made 7-of-17 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime. And this time they finished off the comeback, three nights after coming from 19 down to within two of the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.

“We were just resilient,” said Atkinson on Wednesday night. “Resilient team. We fought through a lot of missed opportunities. Felt like we had a bunch of opportunities to close it out and we just kept fighting. The last defensive stop was kind of indicative of our toughness tonight. Caris (LeVert) comes up with huge rebound at the end. Spencer gets caught in a switch against one of the best players in the league and does a heck of a job. That’s kind of the picture I leave from this game. They’re a heck of a team. I think they’re an excellent team. It’s a really good win for us, especially in front of our home crowd.”

BLAKE, DENIED

So, turns out Dinwiddie wasn’t done after his go-ahead shot over Andre Drummond went through.

“There weren’t zeroes on the clock, so it wasn’t time for me to beat my chest and celebrate,” said Dinwiddie after practice on Thursday afternoon. “I fully thought I was going to make it. I made the shot. We’re up one. We still need to get a stop. So it’s all right. Let’s go get the next stop. Finish the game.”

There were 7.1 seconds left when Detroit inbounded, about the same amount of time that was on the clock a week ago in New Orleans. And the Pistons quickly got the ball to Blake Griffin, who came in to the game averaging 27.7 points and finished with 25. Dinwiddie ended up stopping him from getting to his average.

“We got more aggressive,” said Atkinson. “The last play it was obvious, we switched everything. Instead of giving up that mid-range shot, we kind of stepped up our bigs and made them see our big. We didn’t want them to get mid-range shots off, so that was a bit of a change.”

It was the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Dinwiddie who found himself isolated against the 6-10, 250-pound Griffin.

“We caught the switch,” said Dinwiddie after the game. “I believe it was seven seconds or so when they started running the play. They caught the switch, tried to back me down — I lift, so credit (Nets Director of Sport Science) Dan Meehan on that, you know, — and then obviously I saw the second back down — lift again — and he peeked at the clock, I had a pretty good idea it was running down. So when he turned, he only had one option to shoot it so I was able to get a good contest. It’s more a product of probably the condensed time period versus me just stopping Blake. If you gave him unlimited dribbles and a full shot clock, I’m sure he’d probably back me down to the basket.”

CHECKING IN ON THE OFFENSE

The Nets enter the ninth game of the season with an offensive rating of 108.0, ranked 17th in the NBA. That’s up from the 22nd ranking and 106.0 mark they closed the 2017-18 season with. They’re also 12th in the league in effective field goal percentage (53.2). Even with the updates they made to the offense, they’re still hunting largely the same shots — 3-pointers and drives to the rim.

Brooklyn is sixth in the NBA in 3-point attempts (35.8) and seventh in 3-point percentage (38.1). The Nets are also fourth in the league in drives per game (49.5)

“That’s the formula,” said Atkinson. “We’re trying to find that perfect balance. We’re not out here to shoot 60 threes. We’re out there to find the balance between the threes and the rim attacks. I do remember the one, Joe, you know, I’ve got to tell Joe, he is allowed to shoot a pull-up jumper instead of running into Drummond and charging over him. We’ve got to make that clear to Joe. Sometimes these guys, they think I’m going to get mad at them for shooting a pull-up.”

One area is somehow the same, but different. The Nets are playing slightly off last year’s pace — the number of possessions per game 48 minutes — with a measure of 99.21 compared to last season’s 99.74. The big difference? Everybody else in the league is playing a lot faster. At the end of the 2017-18 season, five teams had a pace of 100 or more. Two weeks into this year, 26 have a pace of at least 100.

So while playing at roughly the same tempo, the Nets have gone from sixth in the category to 28th.

“I think it’ll even out as the season goes,” said Atkinson. “But I’m ok where we are. I do think we could exploit, we could play better in transition and push the ball more. but you know, when I watch it on film I’m pretty pleased with how our offense is flowing right now. So not displeased at all with the pace. Like I said I think teams will kind of regress to the mean, teams will kind of come back to where they should be for the year. I still think it’s early.”

ABOUT THE ROCKETS

Aside from the fact that James Harden has been out the last few games, nobody seems to be quite sure what’s happened to the Rockets.

The league leader in offensive rating last season behind the MVP Harden, Houston is 25th this season, and the same in defensive rating as well. That has left the Rockets 27th in net rating. Western Conference finalists a year ago with the league’s best record, Houston has started 1-5 after Tuesday’s 104-85 loss to Portland.

Harden has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. In the four games he played he’s averaging 28.5 points, 9.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.1 percent from 3-point range.

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