Nets face Cavaliers, hope to keep rolling without Irving

NBA

As the Brooklyn Nets wait for Kyrie Irving to recover from right shoulder impingement, Spencer Dinwiddie is helping them succeed without their star point guard.

The Nets hope to get another big game from Dinwiddie and get over the .500 mark for the first time this season Monday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving was injured in a 119-114 loss at Utah on Nov. 12 and played through the injury two nights later in Denver. He has missed the last five games and is out for at least two more games, Monday and again Wednesday when Brooklyn visits Boston, where Irving spent the previous two seasons following his trade from Cleveland.

Brooklyn is 4-1 since Irving began sitting out and Dinwiddie is averaging 25 points and 6.2 assists while playing 33 minutes. While starting for Irving, Dinwiddie is shooting 44 percent and has scored at least 20 points in five straight games for the first time in his career.

On Sunday, Dinwiddie helped the Nets even their record at 8-8 with a 103-101 victory at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. Dinwiddie scored 30 points on 7 of 17 shooting and made 13 of 14 free throws.

“Just (a) difference-maker right now,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of Dinwiddie.

The only loss the Nets have without Irving was 115-86 at home to the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 18. Since then the Nets have rebounded by beating Charlotte, Sacramento and New York by defending better.

During their three-game winning streak, Brooklyn is holding opponents to 96.3 points and has a defensive rating of 97.6 all while playing without Irving and Caris LeVert, who injured his right thumb two weeks ago.

“We don’t have some of our better players on the court, but we’re still finding a way to win,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said.

Cleveland is attempting to win consecutive games for the second time this season. The Cavaliers posted consecutive wins at Washington and New York Nov. 8-10 but followed it up by averaging 99.2 points and allowing 118.3 points on 51.9 shooting during a six-game losing streak where five losses were by double-digits.

Cleveland halted its skid by pulling out a 110-104 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, ending a stretch of five games in seven nights. The Cavaliers ended the skid a night after allowing 143 points in 42-point loss at Dallas.

Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 28 points and made all six of his 3-point attempts after going scoreless in Dallas. Tristan Thompson tied a season high with 25, while Collin Sexton contributed 19 as the Cavaliers began a stretch a six-game homestand by recovering nicely from their worst loss of the season.

“I didn’t see any fatigue,” Cleveland coach John Beilein said. “I didn’t see anything but effort to try and win the game. There are a lot of teams that have had tough schedules, that have had injuries and are rebuilding. We just have to stick together so we can be better than this.”

The Cavaliers were without Kevin Love for the second time in four games due to a sore back. Love, whose 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds lead the Cavaliers, is listed as questionable for Monday. If Love sits out again, Larry Nance Jr. would likely start at forward.

Cleveland is 10-2 in its last 12 home games with the Nets, though most of those wins are with Irving or LeBron James on the roster. In the last meeting in Cleveland on Feb. 13, the Nets pulled out a wild 148-139 triple-overtime win and overcame 42 points by Clarkson.

–Field Level Media

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