Nets, Dinwiddie try to extend success vs. Hawks
On Friday, Dinwiddie signed a three-year extension before leading the Nets to another win.
Now, Dinwiddie and the Nets seek their season-high fifth straight victory Sunday afternoon when they host the Atlanta Hawks.
“I didn’t hear the extension chant,” Dinwiddie said. “I know when I say that you’re going to think I’m lying. I did, however, hear the ‘three more years’ chant this game. It felt good for sure. It doesn’t affect your play. They don’t control whether I make or miss free throws. It did feel good.”
The Nets (12-18) signed Dinwiddie to a three-year extension on Friday, six days he was initially eligible to get one. The extension was signed exactly two years after his first home game with the Nets and two days after Dinwiddie scored a career-high 39 points in a 127-124 win at Philadelphia.
After discussing the extension before the game, Dinwiddie scored 27 points in a 120-113 victory over the Washington Wizards. It was his third straight game with at least 25 points, becoming the first Nets reserve to do so since Cliff T. Robinson did it Feb. 7-11, 1981.
Dinwiddie is averaging 30.3 points in his last three games and scored in his last 23 games as a reserve.
Brooklyn is on its first four-game winning streak since getting six straight wins from March 25-April 3, 2015 when Dinwiddie was concluding a rookie season with the Detroit Pistons, who played him in 34 games for 13.4 minutes per.
The winning streak is on the heels of an eight-game losing streak and 10 losses in 12 games following a right foot injury to Caris LeVert on Nov. 12 in Minnesota.
In between blowing a 23-point lead and taking a 114-112 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 5 and getting an overtime win over the league-leading Toronto Raptors two nights later, the Nets held a players-only meeting and looked at film after practice.
“It also spurred some communication,” Dinwiddie said. “Now we’re kind of rolling a little bit. Let’s keep it going.”
“Obviously you never want to lose eight games in a row, but what we’ve learned in those eight games has helped us finish and execute here as of late,” Brooklyn guard Joe Harris said.
The Nets won with a slightly new lineup as Harris moved from the frontcourt and rookie Rodions Kurucs scored a career-high 15 points. The move was made because Allan Crabbe sat out with a sore right knee injury and is doubtful for Sunday.
Atlanta (6-22) is among the league’s youngest teams but two of its veterans are former Nets in Vince Carter, who was a Net from 2004-2009 and Jeremy Lin, who was traded from Brooklyn to Atlanta in the offseason. Both players are in reserve roles for first-year coach Lloyd Pierce, whose team heads to Brooklyn with three wins in its last nine games since a 10-game losing streak Nov. 6-23.
The Hawks are coming off their most lopsided loss since the losing streak as they took a 129-108 setback to the Boston Celtics on Friday. Atlanta fell behind 42-19 in the first quarter, also gave up a 41-point third quarter as the Celtics shot 48.4 percent and led by as many as 29.
“We just have to concentrate a little more,” Carter said. “We are a team that has a lot of guys getting opportunities, real big minutes, playing against seasoned teams and we have to continue to understand our importance of starting off early, particularly when you’re on the road it’s important for us to come out and hit first.”
Atlanta allowed at least 40 points in a quarter for the ninth and 10th times while taking its 16th double-digit loss this season. The Hawks also committed nine of their 24 turnovers in the opening 12 minutes.
“Our first quarters and I told the guys we’ve been poor all year in just the first six minutes,” Pierce said. “We put ourselves in holes and we try to crawl our way out. If we can duplicate when we get hit, and that’s kind of the lesson. Our guys have been resilient, but I’d rather them just be brilliant right from the start and come out with a different approach. It’s something new to work on.”
Rookie Trae Young was held to nine points on 2-of-11 shooting Friday. He has eight games with at least 20 points but also has been held to single digits eight times.
Brooklyn won three of four meetings with the Hawks last season and five of the last six stretching into 2016-17.