"Lijep," they would say in Mirza Teletovic's native Bosnia. Beautiful.
With the Nets and Mavericks commencing Friday night's game as if caught in a polar vortex of frigid shooting, it was Teletovic, a second-year NBA pro from Mostar in the former Yugoslavia, who came to the rescue, scoring 34 points off the bench.
Teletovic's performance contributed mightily to the Nets' ability to survive, 107-106, and to continue their transformation from a backwater outfit from New Jersey just two years ago to -- what? -- the Globetrotters? Since the beginning of this new year, the Nets are 9-1.
Already the team's most accurate three-point shooter at 42 percent, Teletovic, 28, annihilated his previous career high of 19 points, converting 12 of 18 field-goal attempts (7-for-11 on three- pointers) and all three free-throw attempts.
He seemed wide open all night and took full advantage. "Our point guards," he said, "want to get the ball out . There's a lot of open space. We have Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson, and 'OK,' " Teletovic guessed about the opponents' thinking, " 'Let's let the guy from Europe shoot. Maybe he won't make it.' "
When Teletovic entered the game to start the second period, the Nets were down 21-18 and had reverted to an aimless offense. Teletovic proceeded to score 11 of the Nets' next 13 points and 19 of their next 23: A three-point rainbow. Another three-pointer from binocular range. And another. Then a follow shot, another long three-pointer and a flying layup off a Nets steal.
By the time Teletovic's sixth three-pointer splashed through the net with 2:48 to go in the half, the Nets led 48-36, their largest lead. He added one more field goal before the half.
"Mirza was good the whole night," Jason Kidd said. "As a coach, you think every player is going to make every shot. But the thing is, he's a player. He can put the ball on the floor and he's very athletic.
"He's not just a shooter. When he's on the floor, he draws attention."
And, like a beneficial second-hand smoke, Teletovic's hot hand fired up his teammates. And made all of Kidd's tactical moves appear visionary.
For the eighth consecutive time that Kidd used a starting lineup of Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Johnson, Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets won. But the members of the bench, led by Teletovic, were first in line for taking the bows, scoring 74 of the team's points.
Deron Williams had 18 points off the bench. Pierce had 12 and Garnett had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Dallas never quite let the Nets get entirely comfortable and the Nets needed free throws from Pierce, Williams and Andrei Kirilenko to hang on. But they also got two big baskets from Teletovic down the stretch -- another three-pointer and a baseline jumper in the final four minutes.