J.J. Barea surveyed the pick-and-roll landscape late in the game and knew he had fallen into a perfect situation.
Time and time again Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center, the Dallas Mavericks guard found himself on the perimeter being meekly challenged by Brooklyn Nets 7-foot center Brook Lopez.
Despite being only 6-feet tall, Barea fired in four consecutive jumpers over Lopez — the fourth one a 3-pointer – to fuel the Mavs to their 111-104 triumph over the Nets.
It was almost like a cat-and-mouse game for Barea, who scored nine straight points and obviously got the best of Lopez.
“Well, I knew Lopez was backing off a lot so I couldn’t get the lob to Nerlens (Noel),” Barea said. “The mid-range (jump shot) was there and it was going in, so I was looking for it more often.”
Yeah, big shots, that’s what he does. He’s great in pick-and-rolls.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on J.J. Barea
Caught in a bad spot four straight times, Lopez couldn’t produce the necessary defense to stop Barea.
“He was just entirely too comfortable,” Lopez said. “And that’s where I think I’ve just gotta read the situation and make a decision myself in the middle of the game where I’ve gotta step up, pressure him more and rely on my teammates for help.”
The Mavs were only up 94-92 before Barea scored those nine consecutive points to increase the lead to 103-96 with 2:16 left.
“Yeah, big shots, that’s what he does,” Dirk Nowitzki said of Barea. “He’s great in pick-and-rolls.
“We made a couple from mid-range and they went on a run at the last, and he made a big three. He’s made big plays for this franchise for a long time.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson lamented the huge baskets by Barea, who was the primary reason Brooklyn dropped to 13-56 on the season.
“I think two or three of them were mid-range ones, which we don’t give up — we still want to contest them,” Atkinson said. “But they’re good shots for him.
“Then he hit the three, that was a killer. I thought that was the nail in the coffin, because he hit those mid-range (shots). We were going over on the mid-range ones, then we went under and he made us pay. He made the big plays down the stretch.”
Yeah, we were disappointed in Philly, but we were locked in today. Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, on the difference Sunday after a 42-point loss to Philadelphia on Friday
Barea wound up with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, and added seven assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
With the victory, the Mavs (30-39) salvaged a split of the four-game road trip. They also safely filed away Friday’s 42-point humiliating loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and can now turn their attention to a four-game homestand that starts Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors.
“Yeah, we were disappointed in Philly, but we were locked in today,” Barea said. “We came out with a lot of energy, from the warm-ups to in the locker room — it was a good feeling.
“The starters came out on fire today with a lot of energy, and we were able to hold them off.”
Thanks in large part to the shooting exhibition by Barea.