Nets' Dinwiddie Hits Dagger, Dooms Cavs in Fight to Final Buzzer
CLEVELAND -- The man wasn't Michael Jordan and this wasn't the 1989 playoffs, but today's Cavaliers got to experience what that sinking feeling might have been like.
This time, the star was Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, whose midrange jumper with 1.6 seconds left buried the Cavs, 108-106, in front of 17,143 Monday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
"Spencer Dinwiddie just put on a clinic of how to keep your team under control and make the next right play," Cavs coach John Beilein said.
Dinwiddie also showed he knows a little something about calm under pressure.
The Cavs felt like they did everything right in those final fateful seconds. Cedi Osman was the defender on the play. He stuck right with Dinwiddie. He didn't rise quite as high. Osman's goal was to make Dinwiddie take a difficult shot and Osman felt he succeeded.
"He's a good player," Osman said. "It wasn't an easy shot, but he made it."
Cavs big man Larry Nance Jr. was a little more specific.
"It was a 6-foot-6 guard shooting a fadeway from 16 feet," Nance said. "Analytics says that's the shot we want him to take."
For the Cavs (5-12), this was a major bummer, as they hung around, fought hard and played well enough to win.
They also had their chances -- and the ball with time winding down. But guard Jordan Clarkson had his shot swatted out of bounds by Nets center Jarrett Allen. After that, Collin Sexton tried to heave one up as the shot clock expired, but it never made it to the rim. Turnover.
Beilein said Clarkson was the first option.
"We were looking to try to get Jordan curling and if he was open, get him the ball," Beilein said. "In hindsight you would've liked to get a better shot off with two seconds to go (on the shot clock). But it's tough when they have length and can blow up a play."
Allen is 6-foot-11 with perhaps the league's best and largest Afro. He can also really jump. As Clarkson indicated, seeing over Allen is no easy task.
"I got to my spot," Clarkson said. "It was just a good play by him."
Until that point, Clarkson had his way in the fourth quarter, exploding for 16 points to finish with 23. If it weren't for Clarkson, this one likely would've been over a lot sooner.
Nance was exceptional most of the night, filling in for the still-iffy Kevin Love (back), scoring 20 points and pulling down a team-high 13 rebounds.
Sexton (18 points) came to life late after being way off for most of the first three quarters. He made a free throw to tie the score at 106 ... but missed the one that would've given the Cavs the lead with 21.5 seconds left.
“That free throw, man, it felt good. It went in and out,” Sexton said. “I just gotta make it next time. I’m definitely going to make it next time.”
Osman finished with 15 points, Darius Garland scored 10 and Tristan Thompson battled Allen for seven points and 10 boards.
Also, rookie Kevin Porter (five points) passed for a career-high seven assists from his wing position.
"Isn't that great?" Beilein asked. "I just love it. I love his evolution, that he is seeing the floor. He is becoming a much more accurate passer."
Meanwhile, the Nets were without former Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, out with a shoulder injury. The Nets (9-8) are Irving's third team now and he has not appeared in a game in Cleveland since the opener two years ago.
But hey, no big deal for the Nets. They are 5-1 without Irving, just 4-7 with him.
Dinwiddie's game-winner gave him 23 points, but Allen was every bit as vital. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and hauled in a whopping 21 rebounds.
The Cavs shot 42 percent from the field but missed seven free throws (13-of-20). In the end, that proved to be the difference.
They have lost six of seven after a 4-5 start.
"Aloss is a loss, but Brooklyn is a pretty good team," Nance said. "They're hot. Obviously, missing Kevin is tough, but I thought we played hard, really fought and never gave up.
"There are no moral victories, but our morale is all right."