NEW YORK (AP)Kyrie Irving will miss at least two more games, sitting out trips to his old homes in Cleveland and Boston.
The way Spencer Dinwiddie is playing, it might not matter to the Brooklyn Nets.
”Just, difference-maker right now,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
Dinwiddie scored 30 points in another strong start in place of the injured point guard and the Nets beat the New York Knicks 103-101 on Sunday for their season-high third straight victory.
Irving continues to rest an injured right shoulder, and Dinwiddie is making sure they get by without him, scoring 20 or more points in a career-best five straight games after stepping into the starting lineup. He was 13 of 14 from the foul line, where the Nets had a whopping 27-9 advantage in makes.
Jarrett Allen had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, and Taurean Prince added 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Joe Harris scored 13 points, with four coming after the Knicks had cut it to one with 1:20 remaining.
Marcus Morris scored 26 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight. They played without rookie RJ Barrett. He was scratched after feeling sick before the game.
The Nets are missing their starting backcourt, with Caris LeVert out after right thumb surgery. But they have won four of five to even their record at 8-8.
”We don’t have some of our better players on the court but we’re still finding a way to win,” Allen said.
The biggest reason has been the play of Dinwiddie, who could go back to the bench as soon as Friday if Irving is cleared to return. Or, perhaps Atkinson could choose to start them together until LeVert is recovered.
”I’m not the coach, I don’t make those decisions,” Dinwiddie said. ”If that’s the new role then that’s what I’ll do, and if it’s not then it’s not.”
The Nets opened a 29-15 lead, but struggled when Dinwiddie and Allen went to the bench and let the Knicks close the gap to 52-46 by halftime.
New York cut it to one after back-to-back 3s by Morris and another by Wayne Ellington, but Harris scored on a drive and later added a pair of free throws.
The Knicks had a much stronger effort than a night earlier, when they never led in a home loss to San Antonio. But they fell to 4-13 ahead of a tough five-game stretch against Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee and Denver.
”I embrace the challenge,” coach David Fizdale said. ”I don’t feel like we need to be looking at that like that’s impossible. We’re going to take it a game at a time and continue to try to give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
Nets: Atkinson said Irving wouldn’t travel with the team to Cleveland on Monday, but wasn’t sure yet about Wednesday to Boston. … It was the most points Dinwiddie has scored in 12 games against the Knicks.
Knicks: Mitchell Robinson was called for a sixth foul with 4:54 remaining, but Fizdale challenged the call and it was overturned, allowing Robinson to stay on the floor. Not for long: He then picked up the sixth 42 seconds later and was given a technical foul after saying something to a referee on his way off the floor. … Morris has scored 20 or more in four straight and six of his last seven games.
Kevin Knox II had five points starting in place of Barrett. He not only hadn’t started this season, but his minutes off the bench had been dwindling. He had been limited to 10 or fewer in the last two games, with Fizdale seeking a more consistent defensive effort from the 2018 lottery pick. So he was hoping to make the most of his opportunity Sunday, but picked up his fourth foul less than four minutes into the second half.
”Like I say you’ve got to be ready when your name gets called,” Knox said. ”My dad used to always tell me growing up: You’re an ankle sprain away from that time.”
The sound around the Nets has changed – on and off the court – since the recent signing of Iman Shumpert, who began his career with the Knicks, won a title with Cleveland and has done some rap music.
”I just see Theo (Pinson), DeAndre (Jordan), the communication is better because he talks a ton and his aggressiveness, he’s pushing the other guys,” Atkinson said. ”And then our music has definitely improved in the locker room. We’ve taken a step up in our music selection. Obviously, he’s pretty sophisticated there.”
Nets: At Cleveland on Monday night.
Knicks: At Toronto on Wednesday night.
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