Nobody gave the Nets any hope of breaking the Dallas Mavericks current win streak. Why would they? The New Jersey Nets have won only seven games this season (even Snooki and The Situation have won more games) and could set the NBA’s all time futility mark surpassing that of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers mark of 9-73. Point spreads before the game had the Nets as 13 point underdogs at the very least. John Hollinger needed a double digit win for the Mavericks so his computer mainframe would stop belching smoking and crashing every time it ran the statistics on the Mavericks. With their season done and the team hardly even playing for pride everyone expected the Nets to get rolled over by NBA’s hottest team. The Nets had other ideas.
New Jersey came flying out of the gates with speed and determination, scoring at will on the Mavericks who were taken completely by surprise. Somebody must have told the Nets that if they don’t start playing better they will have to stay in New Jersey. Devin Harris apparently feels he still has something to prove to his former team after being the key piece in the trade that brought Jason Kidd back to Dallas, where he started his career. Harris scored seven quick points in a stretch that saw the Nets’ lead grow to 17-3 in the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, with the dust having yet to settle, the Nets had shocked the Mavericks and their home crowd by shooting 67 percent and holding a comfortable 33-19 lead.
The Nets’ lead would grow to 41-23 in the second quarter. On the season, the Mavericks had never come back to win a game from an 18 point deficit. Just when it seemed that New Jersey was poised to do the unthinkable, the Mavericks defense finally showed up holding the Nets to 14 points in the quarter while going on a 16-6 run over the final 7:36 of the half to trail 47-39. Starting the third quarter, it was clear that the Mavericks had recovered from the initial punch and were ready to, as Big Black would say, do work. They rattled of a tidy 24-9 run which gained them the lead, at 63-56, for the first time since the score was 1-0 in the opening minute. The Mavericks held New Jersey to 15 points in the third.
Leading 70-62 starting the fourth, the Mavericks looked poised to close out the game with same strong play that they had in the second and third quarters. The Nets’ looked as though they had given their best shot and would go quietly into the night. New Jersey thought it better to play bookends on the night instead. They closed the gap to just one point at 81-80 with 7:40 remaining. If it weren’t for another strong fourth quarter from Jason Kidd, who seems to have acquired quite a knack for such moments this season, along with Caron Butler, who both combined for 19 points in the quarter, New Jersey might have pull off the unthinkable. Unfortunately for the Nets, the Mavericks are not the Celtics. Dallas held on to win the game 96-87 despite a poor shooting night from Dirk who went 3-16 from the floor totaling 12 points on the night. (Oh no, a nine point spread! What will Hollinger do? Maybe he should realize that teams will play harder against streaking teams because they want to be the ones to end the streak. What’s the equation for that?)
By winning the game the Mavericks extended their current win streak to 13 games, tying them with Cleveland for the longest winning streak in the NBA this season. Coming into the evening young rookie Roddy B(eaubois) had been shooting better than 55 percent over the previous six games. His effort last night was key to the Mavericks come from behind win as early he was called on to guard the speedy Harris, who ended the game with 21 points. Roddy had 16 points on going 6-12 including a three-pointer and hitting all three of his attempts from the line before fouling out after 26 minutes of play.