The Skinny: The first quarter saw the Nets and Mavericks trade the lead seven times. Only Deron Williams (10), Gerald Wallace (five) and Brook Lopez (six) scored for the Nets. The Mavericks had a more balanced scoring attack—six players scored. The Mavs, 22-21 after one.
In the second quarter, Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand got hot and the Mavericks made a concerted effort to get the ball inside. The teams traded baskets back-and-forth and nobody was able to take control. The Nets reinserted their starting lineup for the final five minutes of the half. Williams ended the half with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, but O.J. Mayo (11) and Dirk Nowitzki (10) combined for 21 and helped the Mavericks withstand the Nets hot half. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field and the Nets led 49-48 after two.
Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo began the second half right where they left off, helping the Mavericks begin the third quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 59-52 lead. The Nets shot just 5-of-15 in the third while Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki each scored seven points to help the Mavericks open up a 14 point lead heading into the fourth. Mike James was inserted early in the quarter and helped to greatly improve the Mavs perimeter defense.
James and Nowitzki hit a pair of threes to open up the quarter and the Mavs opened it up on an 8-3 run. On the other end, the Nets turned the ball over four times in the first three minutes of the quarter and suddenly found themselves down 85-66. Over the next two minutes, C.J. Watson and Lopez combined for a quick 10 points and helped the Nets out to a late 18-8 rally and the deficit was just 9, 93-84.
The Nets strung together a few stops and got two consecutive baskets from Lopez and Watson to pull them within four, but they would never get any closer. Their defense tightened up and they got some timely hoops from Williams, but it was too little, too late. The Mavericks converted their late free throws and the Nets failed to make one of the desperation threes they needed in the game's final minute. The Mavs managed to survive the late rally and hold on, 98-90.
High Scorers: Deron Williams continues his post-all star break hot streak and he led the Nets with 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting. For the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki chipped in 20.
Key Stats: Despite dramatically outrebounding the Mavericks, 44-31, the Nets came up short. The Mavericks shot better from the field and committed just 13 turnovers to the Nets' 19. The Mavs also had a pretty amazing 13 total steals.
Who Was Hot: Vince Carter turned back the clock tonight. He dropped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He rose up for a thunderous dunk in the first half of the game and looked fairly young and fresh.
Who Was Not: Although Darren Collison of the Mavericks didn't shoot terribly, he was outplayed by reserve point guard Mike James. Collison played just 25 minutes. He had four turnovers and zero assists.
Fun Fact: This was the first time that Deron Williams played against the Dallas Mavericks since opting to remain a member of the Brooklyn Nets over joining his hometown team last summer. Check out Jim Mancari's piece on whether or not Williams made the right decision.
Since Dirk Nowitzki's return to the starting lineup, the Mavericks are now 13-13. The Mavericks are desperately trying to catch the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and they seemed to want it just a little more than the Nets tonight.
The Nets fell apart in the third quarter and managed to make it close late. Tell me if you've heard that before.
After falling behind by as many as 20, the Nets got it going and made the game exciting down the stretch, but at this point in the season, there are no moral victories for Brooklyn. They themselves are involved in a tight race and need every win they can get.
The Knicks won in D.C., so their lead in the division in now three games. The Nets will return to action on Saturday night when they travel to Chicago to battle the Bulls. On the second night of a back-to-back and facing a tough team, that will be a difficult game to win.