Here are my thoughts from the Nets win over the Wizards in Brooklyn on Friday night.
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
In his first game since “securing the bag”, aka signing his 3 year/$34 million contract extension, he was the best player on the floor for the Nets. He came off the bench to score 27 points, grab 4 rebounds, and hand out 6 assists. He was steady down the stretch as usual, when the game tightened up.
Everyone is familiar with Dinwiddie’s story. A second-round pick by the Pistons, cut, played in the G league. No matter the obstacle, Dinwiddie always believed he belonged and could play in the league and bet on himself. It has paid off in his third season with the team, as he’s earned a contract extension which means he’ll likely be with the team for two more years and he can, as he proudly said pregame, “retire his parents” for all they’ve done for him.
Spencer Dinwiddie pregame on his contract extension.
2. Lost the 4th quarter battle but won the war
The Nets were outscored 33-24 by the Wizards in the fourth but were able to execute and close out the game, their fourth win in a row. Prior to their current win streak, the team was on an eight-game losing streak. A common theme was the inability to execute down the stretch. On Friday night when the Wizards cut the lead to four points on two separate occasions late in the fourth, the Nets responded with scores and stops to kill any momentum that was building. This was another important step for a team that is continuing to build good habits and create a culture conducive for winning basketball and team success.
After the game, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about being able to close the game out.
Kenny Atkinson’s postgame comments.
The trio combined for 49 points (on 30 shot attempts), 17 rebounds, and 13 assists. Whether it was Harris’ timely buckets (namely a late three), RHJ’s energy, and hustle, or Kurucs’ nose for the ball, these three were critical for the team’s win on Friday. One of the team’s areas of strength is their player development group. GM Sean Marks talked about the staff and how they work with the players intensely on improving the finer nuances of their games and how it translates to on-court success.
Harris is under contract and will be with the team going forward and Kurucks was a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and looks to be a nice find for the Nets. For Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. The Nets like him and he definitely wants to be a part of this franchise moving forward. But with the draft, free agency, and the team’s pending cap space, there will be some tough decisions to make. Time will tell if he and the Nets will are long-term partners.
The Nets outrebounded the Wizards 56-37, and honestly, it didn’t seem that close watching the game live. Whether it was effort (sometimes), or positioning, or luck; the Nets seemingly got their hands on every single rebound. Six Nets players grabbed five or more rebounds on Friday night. Keeping an offensive possession alive or finishing a good defensive possession by securing the rebound certainly made Atkinson and the coaching staff happy.
5. Free Throws
The Nets had more makes (26) than the Wizards had attempts (13). This was a sign of their aggressiveness but also playing the game as it was being dictated. The Wizards ran out on the Nets three-point shooters at various points during the game, opening up driving lanes and the Nets converted. Being initiators and playing with force is something Atkinson and his staff want to see more of, but as always it’s about finding the ideal “balance” between letting it fly from behind the arc and attacking the paint.