INDIANAPOLIS — The Nets hadn’t beaten a winning team on the road all season. That is until Spencer Dinwiddie’s go-ahead jumper — and Malcolm Brogdon’s miss at the buzzer — finally changed all that.
In a game the Nets seemed to have won, then lost, then had to earn all over again, they came from behind in the final minute for a 106-105 victory over the Pacers before 16,761 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“It’s big-time. Obviously, we know they’re going through their own struggles, but us on the road versus high-quality competition has been a struggle, too,” said Dinwiddie, who hit a pull-up against a retreating Brogdon with 5.2 seconds left to give the Nets the lead. He and DeAndre Jordan forced Brogdon into a miss at the buzzer to preserve it.
“[Us] being the team, between the two, to break out of their struggle a little bit was huge. And the guys in the locker room want to keep the momentum going and get a win before the [All-Star] break and ride that wave into a nice little break.”
The Nets had been 5-18 versus winning teams, including dropping their last six in a row. And they’d been 0-9 on the road against them before finally getting a breakthrough that was both overdue and hard-earned. They rallied from a 103-99 hole with under a minute left.
“It just boosts your confidence, and it boosts your chemistry when you get a win, and guys make big plays and they trust it more. So it’s a good start,” Kenny Atkinson said. “We obviously have a lot more difficult games to go on the road against good teams. So hopefully this is the beginning of getting some more.”
There were encouraging signs. Against an Indiana team that bullied them in two earlier meetings, the Nets held a 53-40 edge on the glass behind centers Jordan and Jarrett Allen.
Allen had 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. But Atkinson went with Jordan late to bang with the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis. After leading a fourth-quarter rally Saturday in Toronto, Jordan was stellar late again.
“This is a very physical team. They came in twice in Brooklyn and really dominated us on both ends of the floor,” Jordan said. “That was a point of emphasis; we needed to come out and play with force and not be on our heels like we were the first two games.”
Jordan had 11 points and a game-high 19 rebounds, including eight points and 10 boards in the final, fateful period.
That dug the Nets out of a hole.
Joe Harris (15 points) hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter to help spot the Nets to a 76-69 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. That’s when they allowed a 20-7 run that spanned into the fourth, falling behind by six on a T.J. McConnell fadeaway.
They were still down 103-99 before Harris’s driving layup halved the deficit with 46.9 seconds left. And after Jordan rebounded a Victor Oladipo miss, Harris drilled a huge 3 to put the Nets up with 27.2 seconds to play, flexing in celebration.
“It’s an inside joke,” Harris said of his flex. “A lot of guys on this team joke that that’s the ‘whitest’ thing that I do or have done, like fist pumps up. It’s a joke now.”
The Nets had reason to smile after this one.
Sabonis (23 points, 11 assists and 10 boards) hit a driving finger roll to put Indiana back up with 9.9 seconds in regulation. But Dinwiddie’s 21-foot pull-up four seconds later proved the winner.
“When I get ready to shoot the mid-range during the game, I’m hesitant, [thinking] Kenny is going to be mad, so I’m not really trying to shoot and second-guessing. The percentages are [low],” Dinwiddie said. “But at the end of the game, there’s no rules. It’s like playing one-on-one, just me and you.
“I love playing one-on-one. That’s my thing.”