BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Nets didn’t want to let Luka Doncic beat them, sending a double-team at the Dallas Mavericks superstar as the final seconds ticked down Wednesday night at the Barclays Center.
And for the second consecutive game, Spencer Dinwiddie made the opponent pay for devoting so much attention to Doncic.
After Doncic dished it out to him, Dinwiddie, who has played a major role in the Mavs’ success since arriving in a trade-deadline deal, knocked down the first game-winning buzzer-beater of his career, a 3-pointer over Goran Dragic on the right wing, to seal Dallas’ 113-111 win over the Nets.
It came a few nights after Dinwiddie drilled a winning 3 off a feed from Doncic with 11.6 seconds remaining in Sunday’s road victory over the Boston Celtics.
“Same as Boston. That’s it,” said Doncic, who had 37 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the win over the Nets. “Yeah, if they’re gonna double, someone’s going to be open. I’m glad it was him. He just made a shot — once again.”
Dinwiddie wanted to celebrate the buzzer-beater by standing on the scorer’s table at Barclays Center, his home arena during his tenure with the Nets the previous five seasons. He changed plans when he spotted Nico Harrison and made a beeline for the first-year Mavericks general manager. The two exchanged several high-fives and chest taps as Dinwiddie expressed his appreciation for Harrison making the trade with the Washington Wizards that brought him to Dallas along with Davis Bertans in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis.
Dinwiddie was also thankful that Doncic, a perennial MVP candidate, had the faith to once again deliver the ball to him with the game on the line.
“It’s a credit to him, because as a superstar it’s within your power, within your control,” said Dinwiddie, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as Dallas rallied from a 12-point deficit. “You can make people feel wanted, you can make them feel not wanted. You can trust them, not trust them. … He’s the superstar. He could have done whatever he wanted.”
Dinwiddie has played a massive role in the Mavs’ morphing from a miserable clutch team to the NBA’s best of late in those situations.
Dallas ranked last in the league in net rating in the clutch after a Feb. 2 home overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, having been outscored by 34.5 points per 100 possessions when the score was within five points in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime. Since then, Dallas has a plus-50.3 net rating in the clutch, by far the best in the NBA.
The Mavs are 11-2 in such games during that stretch, allowing Dallas (43-26) to climb the Western Conference standings into a tie for fourth place with the Utah Jazz.
Dinwiddie, the Mavs’ sixth man, has scored 23 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 19 clutch minutes since being traded to Dallas. The Mavs have outscored opponents by 39 points with him on the floor in those situations.
“We were playing possum,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said, joking about the Mavs’ early-season clutch issues. “No, Luka is always up for that challenge. Sometimes you make them and sometimes you don’t, but I think when we add another piece like Spencer who is not afraid, as you see, it just makes you that much stronger.”
Dinwiddie arrived in Dallas as a proven clutch performer and has added to that reputation. He has six go-ahead baskets in the final 10 seconds of games over the last five seasons, tied for second with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic behind only All-Star DeMar DeRozan, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He has boosted his clutch résumé with the Mavs while repairing an reputation that took a hit during his brief stint with the Wizards.
“People said I was a bad guy, people said I was washed, all that stuff after 30 games coming off an ACL, which sucks,” Dinwiddie said. “But Nico didn’t have to have that faith. He didn’t have to pull that trigger, especially with a player the caliber of Porzingis, an All-Star-caliber player. Like I said, I was appreciative of him.”
The appreciation is mutual, as the Mavs are 9-2 with Dinwiddie, who is averaging 17.9 points on 50% shooting in a Dallas uniform.
“He’s been a great teammate,” Mavs guard Jalen Brunson said. “We clearly enjoy having him.”