On Friday night, Mirza Teletovic showed just how dangerous he can be when his shot is falling. The Bosnian stretch forward electrified the Barclays Center crowd, scoring 20 points in a 116-104 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Teletovic buried 6-of-10 three-point attempts to lead a Nets’ bench that accounted for 55 points. Marcus Thornton added 15 points and starter Shaun Livingston scored a game-high 23.
In the process, the Nets beat the Pistons for the first time this season. The Pistons had previously won the first three-match-ups before getting blown out in Brooklyn.
Teletovic sparked the win, though. The Pistons surged ahead of the Nets early in the first quarter, leading by as many as six points. The Pistons continued to dominate the Nets on the boards, but Teletovic’s shooting opened up the game and the score.
“They have to leave somebody open,” Teletovic said with a chuckle. “Most of the times they think it should be me, that’s why I get wide open shots.”
Teletovic is the only bench player in the league to make six or more three-pointers in a game three times. His six games of five or more three-pointers leads all NBA players. Only Gerald Green and Jamal Crawford have accomplished the feat five times.
“I think everybody is doing an unbelievable job to get me open and get me the ball,” Teletovic said. “I think everyone was trying to get me involved as much as possible.”
With his scoring, the Nets opened the second quarter on a 23-8 spurt and never trailed the rest of the way.
With the Toronto Raptors’ win over the Indiana Pacers, the Nets remain 2.5 games back of the division lead. Due to tiebreakers, the Nets will need to make up three games in the standings in the final seven. The Nets know they will need their bench to enjoy any kind of staying power in the postseason.
Teletovic has not had a banner year by any stretch. In fact, people often associate him with just a handful of performances out of 75 games. Even though potential is a dreaded word, he has it. His shooting can turn around a game, or send the Nets into a deeper hole. It really is a pick your poison scenario.
Most will remember Teletovic for his miraculous reappearance in a 1-point win over LeBron James and the Miami Heat on March 12. He also erupted for 34 points in a narrow 107-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks in late January. He is averaging 8.2 ppg on the season.
His strength lies in his ability to release the ball quickly. In many ways, he is a feast or famine player. Head coach Jason Kidd even made him a CD-DNP against the Phoenix Suns on March 17. At the time, it appeared like Teletovic’s minutes would dwindle. He played 15 minutes in the following game, however.
As is the case with Marcus Thornton, both players possess the ability to shoot the Nets into or out of a game. Teletovic accomplished the former against the Pistons.
“They mades threes,” Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey said. “They were on fire; that was it. ... That was pretty much it and we lost.”
The Nets shot nearly 61 percent from the field and converted on 15-of-31 three point attempts. Unlike the loss to the New York Knicks, the Nets made shots and never stopped. Such has been the theme at home.
“For the most part, we’ve been playing so well here over these past couple months and it just feels good,” forward Paul Pierce said. “It’s like when you feel comfortable when you have dinner at your house rather than when you go to someone else’s house and you don’t know what they’re going to cook. Same thing.”
The Nets’ playoff success likely hinges on Teletovic and his running mates continuing with more of the same. They will need to make the transition over to the road, though.
“Everybody’s excited to get to the playoffs and be in the best shape possible just to be ready when the playoffs start,” Teletovic added. “I think everybody’s working on their shooting.”