The Morning After: Nets survive new test

Posted on: January 25th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments
Monta Ellis, Mirza Teletovic

Over, and over, and over again. (AP)

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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities:

What happened: The Brooklyn Nets rode some hot hands, staved off every Dallas Mavericks run, and pulled off a solid 107-106 victory over a Western Conference playoff team. Only a buzzer-beating three-pointer brought the final score within one possession.

Where they stand: The win puts the Nets at 19-22, holding the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. They're 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the sixth seed and 2.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division lead.

That was... Another test passed. The Mavericks made a few runs throughout to keep it close, none closer than the last run, but the Nets executed smart offense to stay afloat. Despite a score that indicates a back-and-forth affair, the Nets didn't trail in the second half.

Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated in 2014, undefeated in 2014 with Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup, and undefeated when starting Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Garnett.

Game Grades: Read 'em here.

6th Man Deron: Deron Williams came off the bench for the third straight game following his platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment, two-week wilderness challenge in the jungles of Borneo, and cortisone shots. (One of those things is a lie.) He had his best game since the return, attacking the basket with purpose, drawing fouls on Devin Harris, and finding teammates while playing in control.

Williams finished with a team-high +14, producing 18 points on 5-8 shooting (8-10 from the free throw line) and adding 11 assists in 35 minutes.

My Thoughts At The Half: MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MIRZA MI

Here's why those were my thoughts at the half:

Fearza caught fire, hitting all six of his non-prayer three-pointers in the second quarter and finishing with a career-high 24 points in the quarter alone. The last three was my favorite -- Mirza caught the ball, swung towards the basket, and fired a daggerous three in Dirk Nowitzki's grill. Teletovic followed it up with some big shots down the stretch, none bigger than a leaning one-hand floater late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 34 points and six rebounds, shooting 12-18 from the field (7-11 from 3). The Bosnian Bomber's best performance thus far.

Drazen homage? Teletovic's 34 were the most by a foreign-born Nets player since Drazen Petrovic, who scored 34 on February 14th, 1993.

Teletovic now has a real shot at playing in the NBA's three-point contest. He'd be the first Nets player to do so since Anthony Morrow, who wore a Nets Petrovic jersey in honor of the fallen guard. Teletovic said he'd be open to doing the same.

Mirza, sneaking around the Americans:

With Joe standing in one corner, Paul Pierce standing in another corner, "Okay, let's leave this guy from Europe, maybe he won't make it."

The league knows now -- after his latest career-best performance, Teletovic is shooting 43.6 percent from three-point range on the season.

Rumors of Kevin Garnett's demise were greatly exaggerated: The Nets are 8-0 with Garnett in the lineup in 2014, and he put up yet another solid game, scoring 10 points on 5-7 shooting and adding 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes. Garnett's found his mid-range shot and defensive acumen, and he says it's because he and Paul Pierce consider themselves primary options in the lineup.

"We were thinking secondary as we come in, and with the fall of Brook, Deron's been beat up, we've had to come in and be primaries now," Garnett said after the game. "When you're secondary, a first in our careers, you take a step back. You're not as forceful. You don't want to step on anybody's toes. Now when you're a primary, plays are being called for you, not only that, but you're touching the ball, you're in a rhythm. ... We're thinking like primaries. We're out here being aggressive. We're trying to make things happen."

The Streets Is Watching: GM Billy King sat courtside next to the Nets bench with President of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA Irina Pavlova and ONEXIM Group CEO Dmitry Razumov. Also in attendance: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Andray Blatche Doing Things That Seven-Footers Should Not Do But It Working Out Anyway, Exhibits 4,893,201 and 4,893,202:

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The first and fourth quarter, respectively. Kill 'em.

Ryan Ruocco, Out of Context: "It's a roller coaster, but when it arrives you feel good about it."

Movement: The long-ball lineup has helped make significant strides with Brooklyn's ball movement. This was evident in the first quarter: even though they weren't making shots, the Nets swung the ball around the perimeter with ease, getting easy looks on nearly every possession. Even though the game was tied 6-6 halfway through the first quarter, based on possessions alone, the Nets had a wide advantage. The team finished with 24 assists, their fourth straight game with 24 or more.

Jason Kidd Suit Update: Kidd went with his standard these days: dark jacket, blue-and-beige vertical-striped shirt, loose collar, no tie.

Fearless leader.

Fearless leader.

The return, kind of: The Nets and Mavericks have all sorts of connections. Mavericks players Vince Carter, Devin Harris, and Brandan Wright are all former Nets. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle played five games with the Nets in 1989. Nets player Jason Terry is a former Maverick, as is Nets coach Jason Kidd.

Weird Math: The vaunted new Nets starting 5 was a -6, shot 3-13 when they shared the floor, turned the ball over four times and committed six fouls in ten minutes... and still end the game continuing their undefeated streak.

Shot Chart Rorschach Test: Mirza Teletovic: an acidic raindrop splashing into a radioactive pool.
Mirzaaaa

Newcomer: Marquis Teague did not play. Also, it's pronounced "Marcus." Just a heads up.

Don't sleep on... The Nets pulling off a solid victory without Joe Johnson leading the way... Deron Williams knowing where Andrei Kirilenko likes to catch passes.... Paul Pierce doing all the little things, including guarding Dirk Nowitzki... Jason Terry looking slightly less decrepit each day.

Across the river: The Knicks won by a lot and Carmelo Anthony scored an MSG-record and franchise-record 62 points no big deal whatever let's move on.

Next up: The Nets go to Boston for an emotional game against the Boston Celtics Sunday, marking the return of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Boston. This is the first game for those two in Boston since the trade; Pierce spent 15 years in Boston with the Celtics, Garnett the last six.