Recap: Nets 104, Mavericks 94
The Brooklyn Nets played tough tonight in Dallas and on the last stop in the team’s eight-game road trip that began before the All-Star break and has consumed almost the entire month of February, and used a 35-21 third quarter to put the game away against the (39-22) Dallas Mavericks.
The Nets badly needed a win against another injury-ravaged team on their eight-game trip, after losing tight games to the New Orleans Pelicans (without Anthony Davis) and the Dwight Howard-less Houston Rockets in the last week. Tonight, with Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons out for Dallas, the Nets moved the ball and looked like the same offense that exploded against the lackluster Lakers and Nuggets defenses post-All-Star break.
Again sticking primarily with his small-ball lineups, head coach Lionel Hollins was forced to go to Mason Plumlee early in the second quarter and after Brook Lopez picked up his second personal foul. The Plumlee/Thaddeus Young frontcourt would play the last 10 minutes or so in the quarter and attacked the Amare Stoudemire/Charlie Villanueva bench unit for Dallas, with Plumlee scoring nine points in the second.
The third quarter belonged to Deron Williams, as he dropped 12 points on a variety of shots from the outside, in the paint, and at the free throw line. He pushed the ball in transition, which led to good looks from three and more room for Mason Plumlee in cutting to the basket. When the offense cooled and went without a basket for a couple of minutes around the four-minute mark, Thaddeus Young scored seven quick points off the bench on an offensive-rebound put-back, a slashing layup, and then a catch-and-shoot three.
The Dallas Mavericks predictably mounted a run in the fourth, behind some Devin Harris quickness off the bench and then some Dirk Nowitzki jump shooting. The Nets’ offense, especially Brook Lopez and Jarrett Jack, slowed down and began settling for jumpers, as Dallas sped up the pace behind their bench. Brooklyn went the first three minutes of the fourth quarter without a basket, while Dallas trimmed it to eight.
Joe Johnson sandwiched a three between Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris makes, and Hollins went back to Plumlee and Deron to provide some energy. The Nets went another two-minute stretch without scoring while Dallas pushed it with Rajon Rondo back in the game, and Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle experimented with some different looks down the stretch, including a Rondo, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, Charlie Villanueva, Dirk lineup to close.
The ball stuck late in the fourth quarter for the Nets offense, often relying on “Iso-Joe” (it had been a while…) mismatches against the smaller Dallas defenders. Thaddeus Young’s presence provided a nice safety outlet in the pick-and-roll and on any Mavs doubles out high, and his huge offensive rebound might have saved the game. Deron Williams missed a really good look late in the shot clock and after a few Brooklyn ball swings, and Thaddeus flew into the picture to grab the board and kick it back out, eventually setting the screen that led to Jarrett Jack’s floater to put the lead back to 9 with under a minute left.
Brooklyn shot 50% in each of the first three quarters before the offense stagnated in the fourth, but free throw makes and Young’s offensive rebound/Jack’s runner maintained enough of a lead to finish the victory. The win set the team’s record at 3-5 after their eight-game road trip, with a couple of losses that were closely contested. I’ve been highlighting this portion of the schedule for a few weeks now on the Three Man Weave, and that the Nets needed to win a couple if they hoped to remain in contention in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The field has tightened up a bit after the trade deadline but the Brooklyn Nets are back in sole possession of eighth place tonight, after defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 104-94 at American Airlines Arena.
Next game: Monday, vs. Golden State, 7:30 pm