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It’s time to have an uncomfortable conversation about Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie

The Nets have to find a way to find comfort in life’s simpler pleasures at this point, because their season grows more trivial with each passing game. They blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, eventually falling 105-103 in Portland. It was their fourth straight loss, dropping them to eight games under .500 (16-24) for the first time since 2019.

The Lakers and Clippers are up next on the schedule to conclude the team’s three-game West Coast swing. Yeah, good luck with that. The lowly Trail Blazers just beat Brooklyn twice in a 10-day span. Portland is in 14th place in the Western Conference standings.

One of the simpler pleasures for the Nets on Wednesday night was the play of Spencer Dinwiddie. At least he showed up, right? The guard had been playing awful basketball in recent weeks. While every player goes through the occasional shooting slump, at times his body language and lack of consistent tenacity was that of a guard who was down-right disinterested in winning.

Dinwiddie was shooting just 32.2% from the field and 26% from deep entering Wednesday night, was benched in the fourth quarter against Miami and Cleveland and had the worst field goal percentage in the league at 38.7%. Speaking to reporters ahead of Monday’s loss to Miami, head coach Jacque Vaughn was pleading for Dinwiddie to stop settling for 3-pointers and attack the basket more as one of the only players on the roster capable of getting into the paint and breaking down opposing defenses off the dribble.

But Dinwiddie was the man for the Nets on Wednesday, although it took him a while to get going. He went scoreless in the first half but responded over the final 24 minutes by pouring in 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting — his highest-scoring half of the season. Dinwiddie did settle for 3-pointers early but finished 3-of-4 from behind the arc. He was aggressive attacking the paint, too, getting to the free throw line seven times and knocking down six attempts.

And Dinwiddie saved his best for the fourth quarter, where he scored nine of his points, including a few clutch buckets down the stretch. That is the version of Dinwiddie Brooklyn desperately needs. Aggressive. Efficient. Engaged. He even chipped in seven dimes to just one turnover in the loss.

Dinwiddie accounted for 45% of the Nets’ points in the fourth quarter, although they were ultimately outscored, 31-20, in the final frame. That is the kind of reliable play fans grew accustomed to seeing from Dinwiddie this season. But that player had been missing in action until Wednesday night.

“Thought he was seeing the floor well tonight, spraying the basketball, getting us organized,” Vaughn said. “But he has an ability to get downhill and get to the rim, draw fouls, which he was able to tonight. It was good to see him aggressive, in the flow and playing to his capabilities.”

Who knows if this is a sign of resurgence for the 6-5 guard. The Nets’ fan base certainly has not been kind to him in recent weeks. Because of his poor play, Dinwiddie has been a hot commodity in different trade rumors lately as fans campaign for an upgrade at the point guard position. A potential pairing of the Nets and Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray has been picking up steam.

The 30-year-old’s contract is set to expire after this season and Brooklyn is unlikely to re-sign him to a new deal at this rate, so perhaps the grass will be greener for him elsewhere. He probably would not mind a fresh start, either. His potential departure would also lead to more opportunities for reserve guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was averaging 9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.6 steals this season entering Wednesday when he plays at least 20 minutes per game — something that has happened only 12 times this season.

If Dinwiddie ultimately does not want to be in Brooklyn then a divorce would obviously be best for both parties.

But Dinwiddie’s situation will likely be addressed in the coming weeks. And as long as he is on the roster, Vaughn has to find a way to get the most out of him on a nightly basis, and Dinwiddie probably has some soul searching to do himself. Because when he is aggressive, efficient and engaged, he has proven throughout his career that he is capable of being an impact player. Brooklyn fans know that first-hand from his first stint with the team from 2016-21.

However, right now Dinwiddie cannot seem to get right consistently, nor can the Nets, who have now lost 14 of their last 17 games. He should though. Finding more consistency will only bolster his value and make him a more impactful player for the Nets. Or another NBA team, should general manager Sean Marks decide to move him before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.