A fourth-quarter burst from Spencer Dinwiddie was exactly what the Nets needed. They needed the pair of off-balanced, far-from-simple shots — as well as each of his 13 points that frame — to defeat the Bulls, 116-105, on Thursday night at Barclays Center. They needed something to show that this reworked lineup, sans their now-traded superstars, could actually work in the short term.
And, if the Nets (33-22) make anything out of the rest of their season, they’ll need stretches like Dinwiddie’s — seven consecutive Brooklyn points early in the fourth, en route to 25 total — to happen over and over again. This instance gave them the lead for good and helped prevent a three-game losing streak.
The way the Nets managed to defeat the Bulls on Thursday night was fitting for their last 72 hours: weirdly chaotic and at times nonsensical. There was no Kyrie Irving. No Kevin Durant, either. Cam Thomas — seemingly a breakout candidate with three consecutive 40-point games — didn’t score in the first half.
When the chaos of the trade deadline settled, the Nets were left with a shell of their team, at least for the short term, than what they had just 72 hours prior. They lost nearly 50 percent of their scoring. They lost their two superstars and all the drama that accompanied them.
Their start, though, wasn’t exactly smooth, either. The Bulls led by seven after the opening quarter and extended that lead to the largest of their game — 13 points — when Thomas and Ben Simmons messed up an inbounds pass. They were the only two, besides Chicago’s Alex Caruso, in the backcourt. But Caruso still managed to steal the ball, make the layup and reset as both Nets players wondered what happened.
But the Nets still found a way to lead at halftime because of Joe Harris and his six 3-pointers. At the other end, Harris connected on his first 3 to methodically start Brooklyn’s comeback. He kept hitting from his spot on the right wing, and he even launched one from the top of the key — with a defender’s hand in his face — as the shot clock ticked under its final second.
That served as the foundation for Brooklyn in the first half, especially with Thomas’ disappearance from the scoresheet. The Nets built their lead to double digits in the opening minutes of the third, until Zach LaVine, who had a game-high 38 points, pulled Chicago back into the game. It wasn’t that any shot stood out as a highlight-worthy, or any distance other-wordly, but LaVine reminded the Nets of the star power they’re now missing.
Then, Dinwiddie started his tear in the fourth. Yuta Watanabe connected on four 3s and finished with 14 points. And the new-look rotation from Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn — a work in progress for now, with so many new pieces assembled — needed contributions from nine members to make the first edition of their patchwork successful.