Nets, Without Dinwiddie, Still Have Plenty in Reserve to Top Knicks
NETS 109, KNICKS 99
The Nets needed someone to come in and change the game, but the guy they normally turn to was not available.
There were more than enough candidates left.
Theo Pinson, Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier carried a Nets bench that dominated the Knicks even without Spencer Dinwiddie in a 109-99 victory on Friday night at Barclays Center. It was the Nets’ sixth win in a row.
“We were losing,” Pinson said. “We had to do something and we wanted to come in and make a spark,” Pinson said.
Pinson scored a career-high 19 points. Davis had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and Napier added 18 points as the Nets’ reserves made the difference even without Dinwiddie, their star sixth man, who has torn ligaments in his right thumb.
“It’s always tough when you lose some of your guys but like I said earlier, I think everybody understands that somebody can come contribute,” Napier said. “It may not be one person. It may be three people that can contribute what Spencer’s been doing.”
D’Angelo Russell was largely ineffective with just 12 points, but the Nets had four reserves score in double figures and had a 60-33 rebounding advantage as the Knicks kept center Enes Kanter out for the second straight game.
The Knicks’ bench was near a section of Nets fans who chanted Kanter’s name. He acknowledged the cheers from his seat.
“I heard the fans chanting, ‘We want Enes! We need Enes!’ I want to appreciate the Nets fans for cheering like that. That’s love,” Kanter said. “They pay money to come watch us, and they just don’t put me out there.”
Trey Burke scored 25 points off the bench and Noah Vonleh had a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost eight in a row and 21 of their last 23 games.
“They just wanted it more than us,” said Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who shot 2 for 14. “They got all the 50-50 basketballs. We’ve just got to match their intensity. They came out with a purpose, and we didn’t.”
The Nets wrapped up the season series with their 19th victory in their last 24 games, a sizzling stretch that has brought hopes of playoff basketball to New York after both of the city’s teams missed the postseason the last three years.
The Nets are 27-23, their best 50-game record since going 29-21 in 2012-13, their first season since moving from New Jersey and making their home just a few miles from the Knicks. They won only 28 games last season.
But they filled in some holes over the summer with players such as Davis and Napier, who have helped them overcome injuries, first to Caris LeVert and now Dinwiddie, who will need surgery at some point but so far was ruled out for Friday’s game only.
The Nets are still consulting with doctors on the best course of action for Dinwiddie, who is averaging 17.2 points as one of the top reserves in the N.B.A. this season. Coach Kenny Atkinson said it was possible that Dinwiddie could keep playing and delay an operation until the off-season, saying the decision would be made by doctors, Dinwiddie and his family.
It was tied, 60-60, at halftime, with the Nets getting 42 of their points from the bench to erase an 11-point deficit. The Nets began to take control midway through the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth.
Emmanuel Mudiay of the Knicks will miss at least two weeks with a strained left shoulder. The team said that Mudiay was hurt on Wednesday in a loss to Houston and that his injury was confirmed by an magnetic resonance imaging test. Frank Ntilikina started for Mudiay and fouled out with 4 points in 18 minutes.