Spencer Dinwiddie squished his right fist into his left, mashing out his frustration. Dinwiddie's layup that would have put the Nets up by one in the final minute of a close game with the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon had rolled off the side of the rim.
In the absence of the Nets' most decorated players -- Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant -- Dinwiddie has emerged as Brooklyn's best player. Coach Kenny Atkinson has called Dinwiddie Brooklyn's "difference-maker." And being that difference-maker occasionally means when it matters the most, the shots don't fall.
With 29 seconds left in Sunday's game, the Nets hung on to a one-point lead. But then Dinwiddie fouled Jimmy Butler, who made a pair of free throws. Then Dinwiddie missed the layup. His 28-foot 3-pointer didn't fall and the Heat escaped with a 109-106 win.
"We live and die with him making plays down the stretch," Joe Harris said of Dinwiddie. "I thought he got some really good looks. He did everything you could ask from him ... he just ended the game on a couple tough contested ones and the ball didn't bounce his way."
Meanwhile, Irving is inching toward returning to the court after missing the past nine games with a right shoulder impingement. Atkinson said Irving has begun to do some on-court work, but has yet to do anything with contact.
The Nets have gone 6-3 without their All-Star point guard and are 10-10 overall.
Dinwiddie's offensive production has swelled from averaging 17 points per game with Irving playing, to 25 points without him.