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MINNEAPOLIS — The Nets couldn’t buy a stop in the first half and couldn’t make a stand at the end of regulation, but they came through in overtime on Friday night.
Spencer Dinwiddie made a game-saving block in overtime – fittingly, as he did everything else for the Nets in a nervy extra-period performance to give them a 124–123 rout over the Timberwolves before a sellout crowd of 17,136 at Target Center prepared.
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Mikal Bridges put in a game-high 34 points along with six rebounds, but it was Dinwiddie, who had 29 points, 11 assists and only one turnover, who made the huge plays down the stretch.
“Yeah, Spence was going crazy and just had the confidence to get the ball in his hands and make it,” Bridges said. “He scored OT a couple of times, and then slowed us down. So just let him build it and he’ll figure it out. You know, we just have to give him a pass, give him a look. But just his offensive And just being so efficient. So I’m just grateful to them.
So were the Nets, who improved to 38–29.
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Dinwiddie passed to Dorian Phinney-Smith, who hit a 3-pointer with 36.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Nets a 124–121 lead.
Then, after Anthony Edwards tied the lead, Dinwiddie blocked a potential winning 3-point attempt by Mike Conley with one-tenth left on the clock.
He had a hand in each of the Nets’ points in overtime, scoring a pair of baskets and assisting on the other two.
“We’re a young group,” said Nets coach Jack Vaughn. “A lot goes on the back of Spencer being able to manage the game for us and his ability to get guys in the right spots to take advantage of matchups, which we did down the stretch and then he shot for himself. Make it and others.”
The Nets got off to another slow start.
The Timberwolves scored their first six points of the evening when Edwards, who finished with 32 points, broke free for a rushing dunk.
The deficit was cut to 12 on Nichelle Alexander-Walker’s mid-range pullup that made it 60–48 with 4:52 left before halftime.
The Nets played little defense in the first half, allowing 58.7 percent shooting by Minnesota and rallying before falling behind by eight.
“Honestly I just go by the focus and the attention to detail. We went to the one-to-five switch and relied on our guards to hold Rudy for a bit,” Dinwiddie said. “But it was really more about focus and attention to detail, regardless of the defensive switch. 68 points in the first half is a lot. I don’t care who you go to.”
The Nets were down 80–73 with 6:41 left in the third after a free throw by Rudy Gobert (26 points, 13 boards).
But only then did they tighten the screws and tie some stops together. The Nets closed the third on a 24–8 run, holding Minnesota to 2-for-12 shooting with a turnover on a Gobert trip.
The Nets seemed poised for a win before Naz Reed hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the score at 114-114.
That forced overtime, and the Dinwiddie punters took over again. He scored the first basket of overtime, and after Minnesota tied the knot, Dinwiddie gave the Nets the lead again.
Conley made just one of two from the free throw line with 3:14 left in OT, giving the Nets a 118–117 lead and the ball.
But after Royce O’Neal (12 points, 15 boards) missed a 3-point attempt, the Timberwolves took advantage of the fact that Nick Claxton was fouled, with Jaden McDaniels driving for the layup.
This was followed by back-to-back blocked shots in the net, first by Dinwiddie and then Dorian Finney-Smith by Edwards.
Then, Edwards hit a midrange turnaround jumper to make it 121–118 with 1:41 remaining. But Dinwiddie led the Nets back again.
He found Bridges for a 3 to pull the nets even with 1:18 left.
And after he forced Edwards to miss a 3-point attempt, Dinwiddie drove and drew Gobert.
The point guard then passed to a wide-open Finney-Smith, who made what proved to be the winning 3 with 36.8 seconds remaining.
“I told Rudy he shouldn’t help,” Bridges said.
Edwards got loose for a layup to cut the Nets’ lead.
Then, Dinwiddie drove and kicked out to a wide-open Cam Johnson in the left corner, but the forward missed a potential dagger 3 with 10 seconds left.
But Dinwiddie made the play of the night by intercepting Conley.
“At halfcourt you start going elephant hunting and you’re trying to manipulate the game,” Dinwiddie said. ,[Gobert] Is a phenomenal rim protector, but if you can get him off the rim and have him chase down blocks, that means you can kick out shooters.
And Finney-Smith shot. And buried the Timberwolves.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges lead Nets to OT win over Timberwolves
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