ATLANTA — The Nets claim they can make a run in the second half of the season, and Friday night they pulled off a come-from-behind win that makes it seem possible.
They gutted out the 110-105 victory over the Hawks, who had the ball and the lead in the waning seconds, but gave away both.
The victory — achieved thanks to Spencer Dinwiddie’s coast-to-coast drive that would have seemed reckless if the result had gone another way — snapped a three-game losing streak. But it also lifted the Nets (16-26) to 4-4 in their past eight games.
Dinwiddie, who has stepped up in the wake of knee injuries to both D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, said he thinks the Nets can make a run reminiscent of — if not equal to — Miami’s 30-11 second-half tear last year if they can ever find some consistency.
“Something like the Miami Heat last year, when they went on that run comes to mind,” Dinwiddie said before Friday’s game. “Obviously you can’t guarantee anything like that, but you’d certainly hope that when healthy and we start to click and gain chemistry that we could do something of that nature, and push not just an improving season but have a really successful season.”
This was the type of smash-and-grab win that lead to that kind of thing.
With the Nets trailing 105-104, Quincy Acy committed a turnover with just 33 seconds left. But the Nets forced Dennis Schroder, who had 21 of his game-high 34 points in the second half, into a rare miss with 15.5 seconds remaining.
Dinwiddie, upon whom Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer earlier had heaped praise, grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball on a one-on-four fast break. He actually converted and drew a foul on Malcolm Delaney.
Dinwiddie (team-high 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) missed the free throw, but followed his own shot and fought for the offensive rebound. When Kent Bazemore fouled him, he got another chance at the charity stripe, and this time he didn’t squander it. Dinwiddie sank both free throws for a 108-105 edge with 9.1 seconds to play.
Schroder penetrated, but traveled, and the Nets added a late dunk from Caris LeVert.
Jahlil Okafor contributed 17 points in 12:11 as his teammates clearly are getting more comfortable with him and vice versa.
“They’ve been better than what a lot of people thought,” Budenholzer said. “You just saw how hard they played last year and they added more talent. [Spencer] Dinwiddie’s development, that’s a credit to their coaches, their staff. If they still had Russell and some others it could be even better.”
Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer gave the Nets a 62-53 lead with 8:18 left in the third.
They didn’t hold onto it. They still led 66-56 after Tyler Zeller’s cutting basket, but coughed up nine straight points over the next four minutes. They actually fell behind 67-66 on Tyler Dorsey’s 3-pointer, and trailed 80-76 early in the fourth.
But Okafor, seemingly starting to find some cohesion with his teammates, had six points in the Nets’ own 9-0 run. His dunk put them ahead 85-80.
They had to deal with another spurt, conceded a 12-3 run, capped by Taurean Prince’s foul shot to put Atlanta ahead 92-88 with 5:26 left.
They still trailed in the final minute before rallying.