There were enough future Hall of Fame players on the Barclays Center court Friday night to fill an All-Star roster.
But a relatively unknown player stole the show.
Mirza Teletovic came off the bench to pour in a career-high 34 points and the Brooklyn Nets held on to edge the Dallas Mavericks 107-106. A second-year forward from Bosnia, Teletovic tossed in 24 of his points in the second quarter when the Nets tallied 39 points and bolted to a 57-46 halftime lead.
With a Nets roster that includes Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, it’s highly unlikely Teletovic’s name came up much in the Mavs’ game plan. But it probably will from now on.
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“We were just poor defensively as a team,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He hit his first couple of shots, and we just let him keep going. And you just can’t do that with professional shooters.
“He had a great night, but we contributed to it. He took advantage of it, but the second quarter was our downfall.”
The loss left the Mavs 1-2 on this three-game road trip and 25-20 overall. They begin a four-game homestand Sunday night against the Detroit Pistons.
Despite the explosion by Teletovic, the Mavs fought back from 12 points down and had a chance to send the game into overtime.
With the Nets up 105-102, Paul Pierce missed a pair of free throws with 8.6 seconds left, giving the Mavs a glimmer of hope. But Nets rookie coach Jason Kidd ordered his team to not allow the Mavs to attempt a potential game-tying 3-pointer, and Pierce intentionally fouled Dirk Nowitzki with 7.1 seconds left.
Nowitzki made the first charity toss and purposefully missed the second one — the Mavs had no timeouts remaining. The ball bounced high off the rim and Vince Carter had his hand on it for a split second, but Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko corralled the rebound. He buried two free throws to give Brooklyn a 107-103 cushion with 5.3 seconds to go.
Monta Ellis (16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) drained a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left for the Mavs. But it was not enough as the Nets (19-22) ran out the clock and won for the ninth time in their last 10 games.
Afterward, a star was born in Teletovic, whose previous career-high was only 19 points. In the second quarter alone, Teletovic was 9 for 11 from the field, including 6 for 7 from 3-point range.
In fact, the Mavs only scored 25 points in the second period and had just eight field goals — one less than Teletovic, who banked in a runner with 1:13 left to put Brooklyn ahead 102-95.
“I thought Teletovic made a tough runner falling out of bounds there off the glass,” said Nowitzki, who scored 18 points and seven rebounds. “That was a tough shot. And like I said, once a guy is hot, he is making some tough shots.”
Nowitzki missed Wednesday’s game in Toronto so he could get some rest and hadn’t played since Monday’s win in Cleveland. Yet, he still wasn’t on top of his game as he misfired on 10 of his 15 field goal attempts and wore a protective sleeve over his left knee.
“They didn’t stop me from getting the ball, but once I got it, they double-teamed me pretty good,” Nowitzki said. “J-Kidd warned me the last couple of weeks that he wasn’t going to let me get a touch on the block, and I thought actually he was joking.”
The torrid shooting display from Teletovic certainly wasn’t a joke. He was 12 of 18 from the field, including 7 of 11 from 3-point territory.
“I’m from Europe, so obviously I’ve played against him before and I knew he could shoot the ball,” Nowitzki said. “He just got hot there in the second quarter.
“And like every shooter, if you see the ball go through a couple times, he just got hot and shot a couple of heat checks and they went in.”