Brooklyn Nets: Mirza Teletovic

Teletovic takes comfort in experience

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
1:46
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Now in his third preseason with the Brooklyn Nets, stretch forward Mirza Teletovic looks much more comfortable and confident.

“I think everything in life is experience,” Teletovic said Saturday. “Year to year, if you keep playing for a team, you always understand more. You’re gonna learn more, and for me I really feel comfortable -- especially because I’ve been playing now for three years with Joe [Johnson], with Deron [Williams], with Brook [Lopez]. And KG [Kevin Garnett] this is my second year with him. They really make it easy for me, they talk to me, they have a lot of experience, so whatever I have trouble with I can ask them. And Coach [Lionel] Hollins is unbelievable. I talk to him every time and if I make a mistake, he tells me, ‘You did it now but just try to get better at it.’”

[+] EnlargeMirza Teletovic
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesMirza Teletovic admits it was tough adjusting to the NBA's longer 3-point line.
Starting in place of Garnett (rest), Teletovic went 6-for-9 from 3-point range and scored 22 points Wednesday in Beijing. And with Lopez out and Garnett questionable (stomach virus), he’s likely to start again Sunday against Boston -- this time, assuming Garnett doesn’t play, alongside Mason Plumlee.

“In the [motion] system we’re playing I get a lot of open shots, I get a chance to drive and post-up. I really can give a lot of my game,” Teletovic said, noting he really enjoys all the ball movement on offense.

“This year, the whole team, the coaching staff and just everybody around has been positive and it makes for a comfortable environment for me.”

Teletovic said his first year in the NBA was “tough,” and has been helping rookie Bojan Bogdanovic adjust to the transition from Europe.

“I try to help him out as much as I can,” Teletovic said. “He’s adjusted pretty well.”

Bogdanovic has talked about how it’s tough getting comfortable with the NBA’s longer 3-point line.

Said Teletovic: “There is different zones of comfortable. There is a ‘fun comfortable’ zone that I feel right now because I’ve been here for three years and I’ve kind of been shooting a lot and I now know when I get tired how much energy I have to give when I want to shoot.

“Bojan still has to set those rules for himself how to shoot. Once he’s started -- and we’ve talked about it -- here from the corners in the NBA the distance is pretty much shorter, so it’s easier to shoot it when you’re tired from the corners.”

Joked Teletovic, when you’re tired, “Just go to the corner.”

Teletovic knows he needs to improve his rebounding.

“I think rebounding -- same [as] defense -- it’s just something if you have your mindset right, if you say, ‘I’m gonna go get the rebound,' you’re gonna go get it. So I really try to have my mind set on rebounding this year. I think I've improved a bit, and I know once the season starts I need to improve, because I know this team needs me to rebound.

• Plumlee also had a big game Wednesday, scoring 18 points and grabbing five rebounds. Hollins liked the second-year big man’s aggressiveness and rebounding.

“He’s gotten better. It’s a confidence thing,” Hollins said. “It’s knowing that he has the talent to do it and then believing that he has the talent to do it. That’s what’s important, and he’s getting touches in the post. He had a big game and he had a big overtime in China. We just want to see him continue to grow.”

• When asked if Garnett would sit against the Celtics, Hollins said, “Probably. I don’t know. We’ll see. But even if he goes, he’s probably not gonna play that much.” Garnett has missed the past two practices with the stomach virus.

Beijing brings out D-Will of old

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
12:48
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Deron WilliamsNg Han Guan/AP PhotoWilliams scored 13 points with eight assists and five rebounds vs. the Kings in Beijing.
On one possession during the third quarter, he used a series of crossover dribbles to drive into the lane and make a layup.

On another possession during that same quarter, he used a crossover to create separation between himself and his defender before nailing a stepback jumper.

This was the Deron Williams of old at work.

Sure, it was just a meaningless preseason game, but Williams looked quick and agile, yet another sign that his surgically-repaired ankles are feeling great.

[+] EnlargeDeron Williams
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesWilliams signs a ball after the game at the MasterCard Center in Beijing.
In 26 minutes of action on Wednesday, Williams scored 13 points, dished out eight assists, grabbed five rebounds and had just one turnover, as the Brooklyn Nets completed a two-game China sweep of the Sacramento Kings with a 129-117 double-overtime victory in Beijing.

“I think Deron Williams has been very consistent. I think his heath is back and he’s playing with confidence,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins told reporters.

Williams was wearing what appeared to be a wrap around his right wrist and thumb in the first half, but abandoned it in the second half, and his play seemed to take off as a result.

Said Williams of amping up his performance in the third: “I definitely hit some shots. I made a conscious effort to be more aggressive to start the quarter. We were down a bit, we needed to pick it up and have a little bit more energy on both ends of the floor, and so I just tried to be aggressive.”

If he’s able to sustain his health, Williams could have a big year. The Nets have surrounded him with a myriad of offensive weapons. The 30-year-old veteran and center Brook Lopez has been tough to stop when running the pick-and-roll. Meanwhile, Williams has a ton of shooters around him, which enables the team to really spread the floor and get excellent spacing for its “flex” motion offensive sets.

“I really enjoyed the two games over here,” Williams said. “I think our team really got a lot out of it.”

As for playing 44-minute quarters Sunday, Williams said, “I don’t know how much a minute (less) a quarter is going to impact the game. I guess we’ll see on Sunday when we play the game, but I’m for whatever the NBA is for.”

The Nets have a 14-hour flight back to America -- but at least they can board that flight knowing Williams took another positive step in the right direction as he looks to return to All-Star form.

Notes:

Nets power forward Kevin Garnett got a day off to rest. Hollins said he wanted to look at the young guys on the roster. Mirza Teletovic started in Garnett’s place and was potent from beyond the arc, hitting six 3-pointers. ... Hollins returned to the bench after missing Sunday’s game in Shanghai due to illness. ... Alan Anderson returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game due to an abdominal injury.

King's biggest concern is rebounding

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9
5:04
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The Brooklyn Nets are loaded with shooters and can score in a variety of ways.

But one major area of concern last season could be an issue again –- rebounding.

Last year, Brooklyn finished 29th in the NBA in rebounding at 38.1 per game. Only Miami’s 36.9 rebounds per game were fewer than the Nets.

The Nets were outrebounded by 4.8 boards per game. While Brook Lopez’s return to the lineup should help the Nets on the glass, general manager Billy King knows rebounding could be a problem again.

“The biggest area I’m concerned about is rebounding the basketball,” King said. “We’ll be able to score. We’ve got enough scorers. I think our defense is gonna be better. But to be a good defensive team, you’ve gotta rebound the basketball.”

Lopez averaged 6.0 rebounds a game in 17 games last season before suffering a season-ending foot injury. The Nets will need his size on the glass, but the 7-footer has averaged 7.3 rebounds per game in his career and hasn’t averaged more than 6.9 rebounds in a season since his second season, in which he averaged 8.6 boards.

Kevin Garnett averaged 6.6 rebounds last season while averaging just 20.5 minutes per game. Lionel Hollins says Garnett may play more this season depending on his health and how the 38-year-old is playing.

Mason Plumlee should see more playing time in his second season after averaging 18.2 minutes and 4.4 rebounds per game. He should help the Nets on the glass. Same goes for Andrei Kirilenko if can stay healthy.

The Nets will have to replace Andray Blatche’s 5.3 rebounds per game. Also, 6-7 swingmen Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston combined to average 7.8 rebounds. All three moved on as free agents.

We’ll have to see how new addition Bojan Bogdanovic does on the glass. Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic, who could see key minutes, will have to use their size inside as well.

The Nets also have some height in newcomers Sergey Karasev and Cory Jefferson. But it's unclear what kind of roles await the 6-7 Karasev, who is more of a shooter, and the 6-9 Jefferson, a second-round pick.

Jarrett Jack, who nearly averaged four rebounds per game in 2011-12, might have to hit the glass, as will Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

“To me, that’s the one area that we’ve gotta get better at from last year, and even so far in practice,” King said. “We’ve gotta be a better rebounding team, and it’s not just gonna fall on Brook or KG. It’s gonna fall on all five guys on the court to rebound the ball, because we don’t have that traditional rebounder, so it’s going to take a team effort.”

Kirilenko: Starter or bench, I'm not worried

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
4:10
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On Monday, Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins said Kevin Garnett will start at power forward this season. Factor in presumed starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, and there is one spot seemingly up for grabs.

If Hollins decides to go the traditional route, Andrei Kirilenko would be a candidate to start. Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson or Jarrett Jack are other options Hollins could pick from to join the starting five.

Kirilenko, who completed his 12th year in the NBA last season, has started 546 games during his career. But when he came to the Nets in 2013-14, Kirilenko didn’t care if he started or came off the bench. He just wanted to get consistent minutes.

And that stance hasn’t changed heading into the 2014-15 campaign. “If the coach wants me in the starting lineup, he’s going to put me in the starting lineup. If he wants me to come of the bench, I will come off the bench. I’ve never had a problem to be the guy who’s worried about the position. I’m more worried about the game time,” Kirilenko told reporters at D-Will’s Celebrity Dodge Barrage charity event in Manhattan.

“If you’re playing 25-30 minutes a game, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from: the bench or the the starting lineup, that’s the only concern I have.”

Kirilenko’s minutes fluctuated frequently under former coach Jason Kidd. In the playoffs, they looked like this: 0, 20, 17, 15, 4, 14, 3, 13, 0, 19, 15, 26.

[+] EnlargeAndrei Kirilenko
Nathaniel S. ButlerGetty ImagesAndrei Kirilenko, a 12-year veteran, has started 546 games in his career.
For his career, Kirilenko has averaged 30.2 minutes per game. In Brooklyn, he averaged 19 minutes during the regular season.

When asked if he believes he’ll have a better, more solid understanding of his role under Hollins, Kirilenko responded, “I’m 100 percent sure it’s gonna be different.”

Most professional athletes like consistency. They like to know their role. It makes perfect sense.

Kirilenko was supposed to have a huge impact last season. He did sporadically. But persistent back injuries caused him to miss 37 games.

Asked how he feels, Kirilenko responded, “pretty good,” adding that he has been working out with his teammates and coaches at the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J.

Kirilenko likes that Hollins’ teams in Memphis always played “structured basketball,” and believes the coach will bring that structure to Brooklyn.

Throughout his career, Kirilenko has been known for his versatility and unique ability to guard multiple positions. He plays with energy and enthusiasm.

Hollins, a defensive-minded coach, will probably enjoy having Kirilenko on his roster -- assuming the 33-year-old can stay healthy, of course.

Burning Q's: Who's the most vital sub?

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
12:33
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Jaret JackDon Emmert/AFP/Getty ImagesCan Jarrett Jack forget his Cavs days and recapture the game he displayed at Golden State?
With training camp a few weeks away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Who is the Nets’ most important bench player?

In his first season as a Net, Jarrett Jack will be the most important sub for Lionel Hollins.

The Nets are hoping Jack can be the super-sub that he was for the Golden State Warriors. Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists while hitting 45.2 percent of his shots just two seasons ago, and he hit big shots in the postseason for Golden State.

SportsNation

Who will be the Nets' most important bench player?

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Last season, Jack’s averages dipped to 9.5 points, 4.1 assists and 41 percent shooting for the Cavaliers. Jack is eager to show that his down season was more a product of his role and the offensive system in Cleveland.

With the Nets, Jack could be Hollins’ sixth man. He can spell Deron Williams at point guard and run the second unit. He also could potentially play alongside Williams.

In many ways, Jack will have to replace Shaun Livingston, who signed with Golden State in July; he could play multiple positions and often played alongside Williams.

The Nets have plenty of key contributors coming off the bench this season. Mason Plumlee is looking to continue his rise after helping Team USA win gold at the World Cup. With Brook Lopez coming off surgery and Kevin Garnett likely playing on minutes restriction this season, Plumlee will be a key big for the Nets and should see more minutes than his rookie season.

Andrei Kirilenko will be needed to provide energy, defense and his unique hustle plays. Mirza Teletovic will be looking to show that last season’s breakout year was no fluke and that he will continue to provide dead-eye shooting. And Alan Anderson should play a key role as Hollins’ best defender off the bench.

The Nets also hope to develop youngsters like Bojan Bogdanovic, Sergey Karasev and Markel Brown.

But Jack will be needed to provide a bit of everything. He has to give the team a boost off the bench, be able to heat up and hit some big shots, spell Williams, be ready to play both guard positions, and give the team an edge and provide some leadership with the second unit.

With Williams coming off surgeries on his ankles, Jack could see a bigger role early in the season and provide the Nets with a potential starter if Williams needs a night to rest his ankles. If Jack plays the way he did two seasons ago for the Warriors, the Nets will be thrilled with their offseason acquisition.

Question: Who do you think is the Nets' most important bench player?

Position analysis: Power Forward

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
11:23
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Kevin Garnett, Mirza TeletovicDavid Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and Mirza Teletovic are likely candidates for starting power forward.
Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Nets currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at power forward.

POWER FORWARD

New additions: PF Cory Jefferson

Returning/on roster: PF/C Kevin Garnett, SF/PF Mirza Teletovic, PF/C Mason Plumlee, SF/PF Andrei Kirilenko

Gone: PF/C Andray Blatche (remains unsigned)

The starter: The Nets could go a number of different ways here. If we had to venture a guess, it’s Teletovic or Garnett. But there are so many factors in play.

The wild card: Plumlee. He could start, too. It sounds as though Plumlee has the inside track on making Team USA for the FIBA World Cup in Spain. He had a terrific first season in the NBA, and the hope is he only gets better next season. Plumlee is an athletic big man who does much of his scoring around the basket -- mostly via dunks. He obviously needs to improve his defense and his jump shot. But the Nets really like him. He’s a great guy, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he emerged as the starter.

Outlook: All indications are -- both publicly and privately -- that Garnett is going to return for his 20th season. But how much will he be able to play? That’s where a young player like Plumlee enters the equation. Teletovic made huge strides in his second NBA season, and he might work well in tandem with Kirilenko. Kirilenko can play multiple positions, so he could probably play some four if coach Lionel Hollins decides to go small or with an unorthodox type of lineup. Jefferson, Mr. Irrelevant, had a nice Summer League, though his contract is only partially guaranteed, so he might have to prove himself in training camp in order to make the team. A big issue for this group, and we’ll touch on this in more depth down the road, is who is going to rebound? The Nets struggled mightily in that category last season, and didn’t add any real rebounding in the offseason. They have to hope that they can rebound as a team, and that some of their players make strides as far as board-snagging is concerned.

Position analysis: Small Forward

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
9:00
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Andrei KirilenkoAP Photo/Frank Franklin IIAndrei Kirilenko can defend multiple positions and facilitate the offense as a passer.
Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Nets currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at shooting guard.

SMALL FORWARD

New additions: SF Bojan Bogdanovic

Returning/on roster: SF/PF Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF Mirza Teletovic, SG/SF Joe Johnson, SG/SF Alan Anderson, SG/SF Sergey Karasev

Gone: SF/PF Paul Pierce

The starter: Kirilenko or Teletovic. That is unless, as we noted in our shooting guard analysis, Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack start in the backcourt, in which case Johnson would move to the three spot.

The wild card: Bogdanovic. The Nets are extremely high on the 25-year-old rookie, whom they signed to a three-year, $10 million contract in the offseason. They acquired his rights in a draft night deal in 2011. He’s a 6-8 Croatian sharpshooter with a lot of potential. The way Brooklyn’s roster is constructed, it would appear that Bogdanovic is going to get a shot to contribute immediately. He said earlier this week numerous times that he feels he can do that.

Outlook: It feels like there is a lot of versatility at this position, a lot of guys who can do different things. Kirilenko can defend multiple positions and facilitate the offense as a passer. Teletovic, who could conceivably start at power forward, is a floor spacer, as is Bogdanovic. You know what you’re going to get from Johnson, who was dynamite in the playoffs last season. Anderson is a “D and 3” type player who is tough as nails. And Karasev has a lot of potential. The Nets viewed Pierce as a power forward at this juncture of his career, but he did play some small forward. Last season, Johnson moved to the three after Brook Lopez suffered a season-ending injury and Shaun Livingston was inserted into the starting lineup. Johnson was extremely potent out of the low post, both as a scorer and facilitator. When it comes to this position on the floor, Bogdanovic’s development is really going to be key. Perhaps -- and we emphasis perhaps -- he could even be the starter by season’s end.

Pierce's exit means opportunity for some

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
12:24
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Paul Pierce’s departure means opportunity for other players on the Brooklyn Nets next season. Let’s take a look at five Nets who could have a greater impact in 2014-15.

Plumlee
Plumlee
Mason Plumlee: Plumlee continued where he left off last season during Summer League, showing his explosiveness and athleticism. The hope is that Plumlee will take another positive step forward, improving his rebounding and defense. Perhaps he'll be able to add the threat of a jump shot to his offensive arsenal, which mostly included efficient scoring in the paint -- mostly via dunks. With Brook Lopez coming off foot and ankle surgery and Kevin Garnett likely playing in his 20th NBA season, Plumlee should get plenty of minutes. Maybe he’ll even start.

Mirza Teletovic: Teletovic made quite the jump in his second year in the NBA. He didn’t play much early on, but got his opportunity as a result of injuries to some of his teammates. He took full advantage, shooting with confidence and displaying a swagger on the floor. Teletovic figures to be a nice asset for Hollins to have at his disposal.

Kirilenko
Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko: Kirilenko’s first season with the Nets was derailed by injuries in 2013-14. His playing time was inconsistent. But if he’s healthy, Kirilenko seems like a Lionel Hollins kind of player. He’s very versatile and capable of playing and guarding multiple positions. Kirilenko is an excellent facilitator and seems to always get his hands on the ball. He likes to wreak havoc on the court. You’d think he’ll have a more expansive role in 2014-15.

Bojan Bogdanovic: The key here is patience. Expectations should be tempered. The 25-year-old will likely need an adjustment period as he transitions from the European game to the NBA. If he does, he’ll be another floor-spacing threat. As Cotton Fitzsimmons told Hollins, “You can never have too many shooters.”

Alan Anderson: Anderson should provide solid depth and toughness, along with D-and-3 ability. He’s another Hollins-type player. It will be interesting to see where Anderson figures into the rotation, given that Hollins has so many options. Still, Anderson is a veteran, so you have to figure Hollins will utilize him in different situations.

Reaction: Pierce heads to Washington

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
1:52
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After going through a messy divorce with Jason Kidd, the Brooklyn Nets are now saying goodbye to Paul Pierce.

After just one season with the Nets, Pierce is joining the Washington Wizards, signing a two-year, $11 million deal as first reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

What does this mean for the Nets? Let’s take a look:

One and done: This was supposed to be at least a two-year window. Or so we thought. The Nets surrendered three first-round picks in a blockbuster trade for Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer with hopes of winning a championship.

Jason Kidd helped convince Garnett to waive his no-trade clause and sold the two Boston vets on Brooklyn being a title contender with them. But their one-year together was a bag of mixed results.

The Nets got off to a rocky 10-21 start before turning things around and finishing 44-38. They needed seven games, and a Pierce series-clinching block to get past Toronto in the first round before losing to Miami in the second round in five games.

Kidd then left for Milwaukee after asking for and failing to receive control over basketball decisions. Now Pierce is gone to Washington, becoming just a one-year rental basically. The Nets also lost Shaun Livingston in free agency after the point guard signed with Golden State.

Moving on: Going into free agency, all indications were that the Nets wanted to keep Pierce but at perhaps $6-to-$8 million per season for a short-term deal. But league sources say the Nets ultimately decided to go in a different direction and passed on matching Washington’s offer. The Nets also passed on any sign-and-trade possibilities to get something in return for Pierce.

The team’s thinking is that it would like to develop younger talent at forward now after recently acquiring 20-year-old Russian forward Sergey Karasev in the Jarrett Jack deal. The Nets also are expected to sign prospect Bojan Bogdanovic, whom the Nets acquired in a draft night deal in 2011, for their mini-midlevel exception sometime this week according to sources.

Pierce’s departure also could mean more minutes for Mirza Teletovic, who had a breakout season.

Bottom line, the Nets are now banking on the core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez to step up and lead. Remember, Williams and Lopez are both making their way back from surgeries.

Big Ticket: What does this mean for KG? We will soon find out. The Nets still expect Garnett to return this season for the final year of his contract worth $12 million.

But Garnett could return and be unhappy. He clearly did not envision playing for the Nets without Pierce and Kidd when he waived his no-trade clause last summer. Garnett may be in the twilight of his career and maybe a 20-minute-a-night player who plays 50-60 games and sits on back-to-backs at this point. But he’s still an asset as far as being a positive influence on younger teammates and a mentor to the likes of Lopez and Mason Plumlee.

If Garnett returns and doesn’t like the situation, both sides could opt to try and seek a trade later in the season. We will have to wait and see if Garnett does return and how happy he will be now that his best friend Pierce is gone.

The Truth: Pierce averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 75 games for the Nets. He broke a bone in his hand early in the season but played a pivotal role in helping the Nets make their turnaround from that disastrous start by playing at power forward after Lopez was lost for the season.

He became a leader on the team in a short period of time and this was evident in big games against big opponents. Nets like Williams deferred to Pierce, who hit some big shots against Toronto and Miami in the playoffs. He didn't always have it, averaging just 13.7 points in the playoffs. But his experience and playmaking abilities had to always be accounted for.

His defining moment as a Net likely will be his series-winning block at the end of Game 7 to send the Nets into the second round.

Nets nail 3s to clinch Game 3 win

May, 11, 2014
May 11
1:05
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NEW YORK -- The Nets' formula for success on Saturday was pretty simple: play good D and hit 3s.

They executed that plan to perfection, knocking down a franchise playoff record 15 triples in a 104-90 Game 3 win.

The Nets also limited Miami to 32.3 percent shooting in the second and third quarters, a decisive stretch in which Brooklyn outscored the defending champs by 15 points.

It all added up to a momentum-shifting victory in this second-round series.

"We were down 2-0, we didn’t panic," Paul Pierce said. "We knew we didn’t do a few things right in the first two games. So we said, 'No need to panic, we’re going to get the stuff right.' We need to get right, come back home and execute it."

Mission accomplished.

It started behind the arc on Saturday.

Brooklyn drilled nine of 14 threes in the decisive second half. They hit 15 of 25 overall. Those are video-game numbers.

"The 3-point line is the huge equalizer for both teams, and they won it tonight," LeBron James said.

Most Nets credited strong ball movement around the perimeter and constant guard penetration at the rim for creating opening looks.

Mirza Teletovic seemed to benefit the most.

He knocked down four of six from beyond the arc in the second half. Joe Johnson led the Nets with five 3s on seven attempts. Brooklyn hit just 32 percent of its 3s in the first nine playoff games.

"It’s a momentum boost for us," Johnson said. "Obviously the basket seems as though it’s a little bigger."

Teletovic provided plenty of momentum in the third quarter.

One one end of the floor, he hit three of five 3s to help the Nets build a 14-point lead.

On the other end, Teletovic bothered James enough to force the best player on the planet to miss four of five shots.

"You have to have someone the same size defending him," the 6-foot-9, 242-pound Teletovic said."And I think I can do a pretty good job."

Rapid Reaction: Nets 116, Pistons 104

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
9:57
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets finally solved the Detroit Pistons.

The Nets, who came in 0-3 against the Pistons, scored a 116-104 victory over floundering Detroit on Friday night at Barclays Center.

Brooklyn hit 15 3-pointers and won its 15th straight game at home.

What it means: The Nets (41-34) keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. The Toronto Raptors beat the Indiana Pacers, so Brooklyn remains 2½ games back in the Atlantic Division.

The Nets are 22-2 in their past 24 in Brooklyn. They were outrebounded 46-26 and outscored in the paint 52-48, but they shot 60.5 percent from the field and won the bench-scoring battle 55-33. They have scored 100 or more points in their past 10 home games.

Tele dials it up: Mirza Teletovic, who came in averaging 10.5 points in April, had 20 points on Friday night. He went 6-for-10 from 3-point range. Teletovic is the only player in the NBA this season to make six or more 3s off the bench three times.

The Nets hit their first seven 3-pointers of the second quarter to open up a 51-31 lead.

Always a steal: Deron Williams, who finished with eight points and 10 assists, has a steal in 25 straight games -- one shy of the franchise record.

Living it up: Shaun Livingston shot 11-for-14 from the field and finished with 23 points, six assists and four rebounds. Andray Blatche, Paul Pierce and Marcus Thornton also scored in double figures.

Return of AK-47: Andrei Kirilenko returned to the lineup following a six-game absence due to a sprained left ankle. Kevin Garnett missed his 19th straight game due to back spasms.

Up next: The Nets travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Saturday night.

Thornton thrives off the bench vs. Bucks

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2
1:04
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MILWAUKEE -- Marcus Thornton came off the bench to make sure the Brooklyn Nets headed home with a winning record on their circus road trip.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Thornton
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesMarcus Thornton stepped up in Milwaukee.
Thornton, who was acquired by Brooklyn in a trade with the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 19, scored a game-high 25 points -- 12 in the fourth quarter -- leading the Nets to a 107-98 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The 26-year-old guard had shot just 7-for-18 from the field in his first two games with his new team. But he stepped up down the stretch, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to keep the Bucks at bay as starters Deron Williams and Joe Johnson watched from the bench.

"I kind of felt disrespected because [Jeff Adrien] played so far back," Thornton joked. "It was one of those things. I tried to make the shots when the opportunity presented itself."

The Nets (28-29) ended up with a 4-2 record on their circus trip.

"This is a very positive road trip starting in Utah, but understanding the last game is always the hardest because you’re thinking of getting home after 10, 11 days," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "The guys came out from the start and put us in a position to win the game."

Thornton finished 8-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He paced a bench that contributed 54 points in the victory.

"He competed very well on the defensive end," Kidd said. "One of the biggest things is it gives the other guys a chance to catch their breath on the bench, especially after a long trip and then a big week at home."

Kidd said that Thornton allowed him to rest Johnson and Williams. Johnson didn’t play in the fourth, while Williams played just 6:05 in the final period.

Williams hit three of his first four shots but hurt himself early in the second quarter as he was defending a driving Ramon Sessions and shot just 3-for-12 from the field the rest of the way. He was seen in the locker room with ice on his forearm but told reporters he doesn’t think it’s too serious. Johnson went 2-for-9 from the field.

Notes: Shaun Livingston had six dunks and finished with 14 points … The sparse crowd at the Bradley Center gave Jason Collins a healthy round of applause when he entered the game with 7:49 left in the second quarter … Mirza Teletovic picked up a technical in the second for arguing a foul call. … Kidd joked that it would take two or three years before Mason Plumlee developed a jump shot. According to NBA.com’s shot chart, Plumlee has yet to make a shot outside the paint this season (0-for-6).

Three Nets earning their paychecks

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
10:00
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The Brooklyn Nets are on pace to pay more than $180 million in player salaries and luxury-tax penalties. And while most of their highest-paid players have struggled, three of their cheaper guys have been more than worth it:

1. Shaun Livingston ($884,293): Livingston, 28, was signed to be Deron Williams' backup. Instead, he’s starting next to D-Will, doing a little bit of everything -- usually guarding the other team’s best wing player. The Nets are 3.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Livingston (7.7 PPG, 3.1 APG, 3.1 RPG) on the court. Not bad for a guy making the league minimum, huh?

2. Andray Blatche ($1,375,604): Blatche, 27, has been doing this in Brooklyn for two seasons now, so it comes as no surprise that he’s made this list. Nothing like a double-digit bench player at a bargain price. Of course, Blatche (11.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 19.84 PER) is also getting $7,489,357 this season from the Washington Wizards, who released him via the amnesty clause. Life is good for Dray Live.

3. Mirza Teletovic ($3,229,050): Teletovic, 28, has finally become the consistent floor-spacer the Nets hoped he’d be when they inked the Bosnian sharpshooter to a three-year contract for taxpayer mini-midlevel money in the summer of 2012. This season, Teletovic (8.7 PPG, 39.5 percent from 3-point range) has taken his opportunity and run with it.

Note: Brook Lopez ($14,693,906) would have made this list had he not been lost for the season due to a broken foot. Andrei Kirilenko ($3,183,000) would have made this list had he stayed relatively healthy up to this point (29 games missed). Alan Anderson ($947,907) deserves some recognition, as well.

Deron wills Nets to ugly win in Brooklyn

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
11:55
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets were on the verge of embarrassing themselves and insulting their fan base -- until Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston stepped up to save the day.

The Nets nearly blew a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead, but their starting point guard duo made several key plays down the stretch, enabling Brooklyn to fend off the lowly Philadelphia 76ers 108-102 Monday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets (21-25) snapped a three-game losing streak.

[+] EnlargeDeron Williams
Emmanuel Dunand/Getty ImagesBrooklyn floor general Deron Williams willed the Nets to a skid-busting win over the Sixers.
"A win is a win, but you can’t be happy with the way we closed the game," Paul Pierce said. "We gave up layups, 3s. You know we were up by 19 and let them back in the game a couple of times. So if we play like that come Thursday [against the San Antonio Spurs], then we can’t expect to walk away with a win."

Williams, who had admittedly been struggling with his confidence of late, ignited a 7-0 run after the Sixers had closed within two with a tough fadeaway jumper and a beautiful feed inside to Mirza Teletovic for a 3-point play.

"Those were two big plays by Deron there," Nets coach Jason Kidd said.

But Philadelphia wouldn’t go away, once again reducing its deficit to just two, 104-102, with 22 seconds left.

Pierce, though, responded with a pair of free throws, and Livingston iced the game with his career-high seventh steal of the night, intercepting a bad pass by Michael Carter-Williams and also knocking down two ensuing freebies at the stripe to account for the final margin.

Williams, who missed nine of his first 10 shots and finished 3-for-12 from the field Saturday night in Indiana, finished with 21 points and six assists in 41 minutes, while Livingston flirted with a quadruple-double, filling up the stat sheet to the tune of 13 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and those 7 steals.

Pierce had a game-high 25 points, knocking down all 14 of his free throw attempts, Teletovic added 20 points (including five 3-pointers) and Kevin Garnett finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks, becoming just the 18th player in NBA history to record 2,000 career rejections.

"We got the win. That’s the biggest thing for the guys," Kidd said.

The Nets led by as many as 19. They should’ve coasted, but it seemed like they played down to their competition.

An 87-71 Brooklyn lead with 11:10 left quickly dwindled to 87-80 1:34 later. Philadelphia wouldn’t go away, and the Nets couldn’t put them away.

Still, as Kidd said, they won, matching their season high with 15 steals and coming up with timely plays while surviving despite not having the services of Joe Johnson (knee), Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Andray Blatche (hip).

It was what it was. Nothing pretty. And there’s plenty of things they need to work on, but they’ll take it.

But, like Pierce said, if they play like this against the Spurs, they’re going to get beat.

Rapid Reaction: Nets 108, Sixers 102

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
10:14
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets got back on the winning track, barely snapping a three-game losing streak with a 108-102 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night at Barclays Center.

What it means: The Nets (21-25) didn’t play their best basketball but did enough to beat the Sixers (15-34).

Deron Williams rebounded from a 3-for-12 shooting night to score 21 points and dish out six assists. With the Nets on the verge of blowing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, Williams hit a fadeaway to make it 97-93, then fed Mirza Teletovic with a bounce pass for a crucial and-1 on the next possession, giving Brooklyn plenty of breathing room.

The Nets, who had to hold on despite leading 104-95 with 2:24 left, are now 19-1 when leading after 36 minutes.

Paul Pierce had 25 points and went 14-for-14 from the free throw line. Teletovic hit five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points off the bench.

Shaun Livingston filled up the stat sheet, recording 13 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and a career-high 7 steals. Livingston was coming off consecutive games in which he totaled 40 points -- including a season-high 24 Saturday night in Indiana against the Pacers.

Kevin Garnett (five blocks) became the 18th player in NBA history and second active player to record 2,000 career blocked shots.

The Nets recorded 15 steals Monday night and have recorded at least 13 steals in each of their past three games.

Back and forth: In the first half, it went from 19-4 Nets to 44-37 Sixers to 54-49 Nets. Brooklyn gained enough separation early in the third quarter, going on a 9-0 run after Michael Carter-Williams' 3-pointer brought Philadelphia within 54-52. The Nets would ultimately outscore the Sixers 30-20 in the third. Brooklyn led by as many as 19.

Injury update: Joe Johnson (right knee tendinitis), Andrei Kirilenko (sore right calf) and Andray Blatche (bruised left hip).

Who’s in the house: Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, Jay Z, Beyonce, Michael J. Fox and Young Jeezy. Wilson, who sat courtside next to Mr. and Mrs. Carter, got a rousing ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the JumboTron. Wilson also received a nice hug from die-hard Seahawks fan Jason Terry.

Up next: The Nets don’t play again until Thursday night, when they face the San Antonio Spurs.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Deron Williams
PTS AST STL MIN
18.5 6.4 1.4 37.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 8.3
AssistsD. Williams 6.4
StealsD. Williams 1.4
BlocksB. Lopez 1.7