Nets jump over Knicks in tight playoff race after stunner in Denver

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

Spencer Dinwiddie dished out a career-high 16 assists, setting the table for the Brooklyn Nets’ rousing road win against the West’s top seed.

Seven Nets players scored in double figures for the Nets who survived the Denver Nuggets’ frenetic rally to book a 122-120 upset win Sunday on the road.

It was the Nets’ fifth win in six games as they kept their stranglehold of the fifth seed in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race.

The 39-30 Knicks, who will face the streaking Los Angeles Lakers late Sunday night, now trail the 39-29 Nets half-game in the standings.

Dinwiddie hit a key fadeaway jumper and his last dime set up Dorian Finney-Smith’s three-pointer that gave the Nets a four-point cushion with 1:43 left. It was enough to stave off Denver’s furious rally from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

A Mikal Bridges split at the free throw line opened a window to complete the Nuggets’ comeback. But MVP frontunner Nikola Jokic missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

Dinwiddie added 15 points and six rebounds while Bridges paced them with 25 points. Nic Claxton scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half that kept them afloat.

Jacque Vaughn went small with 8:59 remaining in the third quarter after Claxton committed his fourth foul. The gamble handsomely paid off as they transformed a 71-76 deficit into a mighty 98-87 lead.

The Nets outscored the stunned Nuggets 37-18 in the pivotal third quarter.

Finney-Smith thrived as small-ball center with 15 points, all from behind the arc.

Brooklyn connected on 17 of 44 3s that helped neutralized Jokic’s monster triple-double (35 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists) with two steals and two blocks.

Sunday’s performance also assured Brooklyn of a winning record in its current five-game road trip that culminates in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

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