Maybe Spencer Dinwiddie was right.
After the point guard insisted his Nets were better than the Knicks, and reiterated that claim this week, Brooklyn closed out the preseason with an authoritative 113-107 win over its rivals at the Garden on Friday.
Preseason results don’t count in the standings, but the performance — in which the Nets led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter — will surely matter to the players’ psyches. The Nets had lost five straight to the Knicks, including the preseason opener. They will hope the momentum carries over to Wednesday’s season opener at Detroit, and their home opener against the Knicks two days later.
After folding like paper against the Raptors on Wednesday, the Nets (2-2) were far better, despite playing sans starters Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
They put eight scorers in double figures, shooting 50.6 percent and 15-of-37 (40.5 percent) from 3-point range. D’Angelo Russell had eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and added seven assists. Joe Harris added 16 points. And after stirring the pot, Dinwiddie finished with a team-high 19 points and five boards.
Dinwiddie had added some flavor to this rivalry when he said in August the Nets were the better team in the city, and he got into a social media back-and-forth with Knicks provocateur Enes Kanter (who sat out Friday’s game). Then, the Nets point guard doubled down in an interview that aired Wednesday on YES.
“Do you really think I’m going to sit here and think the Knicks are going to be better than us this year? We had almost the same record last year, and their best player isn’t going to be playing until at least February?” Dinwiddie said. “This is no shot at the Knicks. I respect everybody in the NBA, so let’s get that straight. Everybody, respect you. I just don’t feel like they’re going to be better than us.
“So when I said what I said, it wasn’t to say we’re going to beat the Warriors. I didn’t say none of that. I said we’re better than the Knicks. That’s what I said. People started tripping out. Bruh, I said we’re better than the Knicks. Any of the non-elite tier teams between 11 and 30, like, why wouldn’t I look at you guys and say if we buckle down and really take this serious, we got them? Let’s go get this.
That’s the way you have to be as a competitor.”
Neither team is going to compete for a title any time soon, but at least they have shown a little fire in their trash-talk game.
Back in August, Kanter — who posted huge 20-point, 20-rebound games against the Nets last season and again in Brooklyn’s preseason opener — had tweeted out a photo of himself outside of Habana at Barclays Center, giving a thumbs down in front of a set of double doors with the Nets logo. Dinwiddie — who was tagged, along with Jared Dudley — tweeted back with a GIF saying, “I don’t see how you can hate from outside the club, you can’t even get in.”
At least on Friday, Dinwiddie’s Nets got the better of Kanter’s Knicks.
The Nets rolled to a 71-50 cushion after center Jarrett Allen (10 points, seven rebounds) hit a left-corner 3-pointer with 7:51 left in the third quarter. The Nets were still leading 92-75 early in the fourth, but coughed up a 19-8 run.
The Knicks closed to within 100-94 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Luke Kornet until Dinwiddie stemmed the tide with a clutch shot out past the right elbow. Brooklyn held on from there.