by Ben Collins | @oneunderscore__
Brooklyn hiccuped past Dallas on Friday night, 107-106, while everybody watched Carmelo score 62 points six miles away on tiny monitors at Barclays. The Nets almost blew it, but they didn’t, and they look mildly more figured out than the team with the 62 point guy down the street.
These two teams, Dallas and Brooklyn, were seven seeds when the night started. One was seven games over .500, the other was four games under .500 and — here’s the real injustice — that last team seems absolutely fine right now.
The Nets are ready to take on the world at their own, very slow pace.
Do not get me wrong: It’s not a coaching thing. It is strictly a personnel thing. Somebody asked Jason Kidd after the game about the star of this one, Mirza Teletovic, getting reps with the first team at practice yesterday because Paul Pierce was sick. He then proceeded to answer the question like he just remembered Mirza Teletovic practiced with the first team yesterday because Paul Pierce was sick.
You don’t get the impression that they’re particularly coached. You instead get the impression that this team is simultaneously tired and self-coached. It’s a baking soda and vinegar volcano of a plan. You’re not gonna win any awards. You’re not doing something nobody’s seen before. But you might, if you’re lucky, get something mildly dangerous in somebody’s eye at a really opportune time.
I guess that’s what you have to be afraid of if you’re the Heat, as this is their first round destiny.
Tonight the dangerous thing in the eyeball was Mirza Teletovic, a guy who shot threes in Spain before riding the bench in Brooklyn for over a season until he caught fire recently. He had — get this — 24 points in the second quarter alone. He also sealed the game with a janky floater with about 30 seconds left.
The Nets are starting to figure out that throwing guys like Teletovic out there with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson is actually good for business.
Ask Teletovic about it: “They’re like, ‘Okay, let’s leave this guy right here and see if he can make it.’”
That’s basically it, Mirza. It’s not all about having 500 old All-Stars on the floor at any given time. It’s about giving everybody a little room to breathe.
That’s a real plan. That’s why Deron Williams is spearheading the bench unit now and not complaining about it. Pile on Jason Kidd all you want, but his rotation is starting to become rock solid.
It’s probably more sustainable than their West Coast equivalent, that over-coached but under-talented Dallas team they played on Friday. (They got cute with it by benching and taking the ball away from a Hall of Famer on an on-night, then played the odds on an intentionally missed free throw to end the game. No way Jason Kidd is pulling something like that.)
And it’s probably even more sustainable than the 62 point guy down the street.
– The Nets do this pre-game thing during introductions where they jump around in a circle into a faux-melée, fake-hitting each other while they announce Jason Kidd’s name, which is their season in a nutshell.
– Deron Williams comes off the bench because Shaun Livingston is still threatening to show him that Youtube video of his injury if he asks for his spot back.
– Ball movement’s good with Livingston in. It’s not, like, crisp or anything, but that’s because everyone else on the floor has to take a second to remember what the 1920s were like before they pass the ball. 6-6. Nothing particularly pretty so far.
– Here’s Deron at the halfway mark. Dude gets to the basket, even still. Gotta give him that. Not sure he’s committed to finishing around the rim anymore, but would you be taking layups when you have Andray Blatche hanging out there, ready to jack a 40-footer from the elbow extended?
– Oh, you would? Nevermind then.
– Here I am making fun of Blatche, as he spins baseline and flicks it to Paul Pierce for a three, like Chris Paul on downers. Me like. Nets up four.
– DeJuan Blair was in the game for five seconds when he got a three second violation. Fun with math.
– Mavs are buoyed by Vince Carter, who’s putting in twice the effort as everyone on the floor. This thought is abjectly terrifying.
– 16-16 with 45 seconds left in the first. Real effin’ barnburner.
– “The Barclays Center: Have you ever been this asleep this quickly?” 21-18, Mavs to start. Rickshaw-paced basketball.
– Teletovic has been hot recently, in a reticent Russian sort of way — like he doesn’t currently look like he’s going to kill everyone in my family because I’m near him. He just hit a three a couple of seconds after coming into the game, so he’s “remaining hot,” is that enough, did I say enough, Mr. Teletovic, please don’t kill me, Mirza Teletovic.
– Back-to-back threes from Teletovic. Nine points on 3/3 shooting. I’m not even being threatened right now! Swear to God! This is not a cry for help.*
– *Will blink twice if cry for help.
– Good God, Mirza is going off. Back-to-back finishes out on the run with Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko.
– Teletovic three. This arena is formally awake. It’s like they’re offering artisanal grilled cheese in this place.
– 19 points in SIX MINUTES for Teletovic. Not a typo.
– The net’s an ocean now for Brooklyn. A big, Russian ocean with lots of herring in it, dyed red and very cold, with a bunch of dead people littered on the beach beside it. Jason Terry 2. 45-35, Nets.
– Teletovic again. 3 at the top of the key. Then an assist to Terry. Announcer guy is just calling him “Mirza” now, like he’s Prince. 51-41.
– “I am a sick man. I am a wicked man. An unattractive man.”—Mirza Teletovic.
– No, wait, sorry. That was Dostoevsky.
– Mirza. Again. On a backdown at the elbow. You don’t have to be rich to be my girl. You don’t have to be cruel to rule my world. 55-46, Nets.
– Dallas is edging back into this game because unstoppable force Mirza Teletovic has not yet seen the court this quarter. 59-54, Brooklyn.
– (Blinking twice.)
– Jason Kidd dresses like the main character in Grand Theft Auto V, every single night.
– Lots of Monta Ellis cutting the basket and long threes taken by Jose Calderon gets Dallas kinda-sorta back in it, 69-62, but it’s no Mirzamania, I’ll tell you that.
– Three minutes left in the third. Here’s Mirza. Raucous, unironic applause.
– More impressive: Melo with 51 in 33 minutes or Mirza Teletovic with 24 in 15 minutes with no moves?
– Couple of Vince Carter Js, a Dirk jumper and some defense where Brandan Wright just knees or punches people once they come in the paint has the Brooklyn lead down to four, 74-70.
– There are evidently people that are self-identified “Devin Harris Fans” in the world, because a bunch of them just cheered after that three he hit. I suppose if there are Bronies, there are Devin Harris Fans. 80-77, Nets.
– Jason Terry hit a three. Devis Harris fouled Mirza Teletovic as he hit it, somehow, in a way even the ref can’t explain. They call that a Russian Four Point Play. Well, they call another thing a Russian Four Point Play, but it’s too disgusting to talk about here. 86-80.
– Dirk’s trying to take over, but he just doesn’t have the help. He got a 20-foot offensive rebound, then didn’t have anybody to pass it to, so he threw it away. Then he got another rebound by trading elbows on the other end. He got a foul call, then a technical. Gonna be one of those seasons for him unless they get this man a real center.
– Melo just shot it from Barclays and made it. Seriously, he came onto the court at Barclays and took a six-mile three pointer. He has 60.
– Kirilenko out on the flank for a dunk. Nets up 9.
– Weird sub pattern has Dirk sitting with 7:45 left in the 4th.
– Teletovic with a fadeaway over Monta. 93-84.
– Nets going small with Blatche at the 5 because the Mavericks don’t trust Sam Dalembert. “Why even be a playoff team if that’s the solution?” a logical person might ask. A less logical person would reply “We’ll just play DaJuan Blair in crunchtime!” and that would also be a person that hates winning.
– Devin Harris just fouled out in 15 minutes of play, which is impressive.
– Hard to know if the Nets are getting better or if this is just listless, borderline playoff teams playing out the string. Feels like the latter, though.
– Mirza just put it away. Long three makes it 100-89. He makes Melo look like actual human sh-t tonight.
– Wait. Late Dirk sighting gets it to 7. 100-93.
– Well, when they go to Dirk, Dallas scores. When they go to Vince Carter, Dallas does not score. It also makes my insides hurt thinking about why that keeps happening. 100-95 with 1:30 left.
– Mirza with a floater off the glass because he swapped bodies with Steph Curry for the night. He has 34. 102-95.
– Deron Williams iso is like Sadness: The Musical. Miss, followed by a Monta Ellis bucket. 102-98.
– One missed D-Will free throw then another tough Monta layup. 103-100. Free throw game now.
– Two made Marion free throws. Two Pierce misses. The Mavericks can tie it with a three. Eight seconds left. Half this place has already left.
– This better go to Dirk or I’m sitting on Rick Carlisle’s lawn tomorrow in protest.
– Nets foul on purpose.
– Dirk messes the second on purpose. Too early for that sh-t, Rick.
– Mavs lose. Bad coaching decision at the end there.
– Final: 107-106, Nets.