Mirza Takes Over
By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Nets kept their winning ways going as they held on for a 107-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at Barclays Center. With the win, the Nets are now 9-1 in January and hit the halfway point of the season with a record of 19-22.
Mirza Teletovic led the way with a career high of 34 points on 12-for-18 from the field and 7-for-11 from behind the arc. Teletovic's previous career high was 19 points against Milwaukee on December 27th.
Teletovic was the spark the Nets needed in a dull first half. He had 24 points in the second quarter, as he hit nine of his 11 shots and was almost perfect om three-pointers, making six of seven. He was a big reason the Nets outscored Dallas 39-25 and took a 57-46 lead into halftime. He is the third Nets player to score 24 or more points in a quarter in the last ten years, with Joe Johnson doing it once, and Vince Carter (ironic because he was on the other side with Dallas tonight) did it three times.
MT3, as announcer David Diamante calls him, said of the second quarter, "I think my teammates just make me better, you know. Once I got in the game and I made one three-pointer, Deron, Joe, Paul, KG, everybody just started saying 'give him the ball, give him the ball.' I just had wide open shots."
The Nets maintained a lead of at least seven points in the third, and took a 78-70 lead into the final quarter. The Mavericks would not go away, and a Devin Harris three brought them to within three at 80-77. Harris handed it right back, as he fouled Deron Williams on a three-point attempt, and he made two of three free throws to put the Nets back up five.
The Nets began to pull away, as Andray Blatche had an electrifying dunk at the 6:22 mark to make it 95-86 and Teletovic hit a three a couple of minutes later to make it 100-89 Nets.
Despite all the threes Teletovic sank, his most athletic play came with 1:13 left, as he got around Vince Carter for a running jumper that he banked in to make it 102-95 Nets.
The Mavericks would get one last chance, as they got the ball down 105-102 with 8.1 seconds on the clock after two Paul Pierce missed free throws. If Pierce hit one of two, it would have sealed the win. Pierce fouled Dirk Nowitzki on the inbounds pass, and he made just one of his two free throws.
Andrei Kirilenko got the rebound off Nowitzki's miss on the second free throw, and he was fouled. AK-47 made both free throws to make it 107-103 and basically seal the win. Monta Ellis hit a three with 0.6 on the clock to make it a one-point win for the Nets.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of Mirza Teletovic's performance and growth, "I think it's just the opportunity for him playing, but also too his work ethic. He doesn't just show up on game day shooting. He's been working extremely hard at his game. I think also, a big credit goes to his teammates because they believe in him. As much as the coaches believe in him, his teammates in that locker room believe that he's going to do the right thing when he has the ball."
Teletovic said of his growth this season, "I'm just getting more playing time and Coach trusts me more. He's explaining me stuff and giving me more confidence, which helps me a lot."
On being able to close out another big win, Teletovic said, "It proves that we are a serious contender. Dallas has one of the best teams in the NBA - they've proven it so many times - and just to get a win against them, you know, it's tough. I think there are a lot of things we can work on."
The Nets head up to Boston on Sunday for the long-awaited return of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the TD Garden.