Reserve Mirza Teletovic excels as Nets win seventh straight
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The Nets could see this coming: Brook Lopez dominating inside, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson scoring more than 20 points. There are certain things that are just expected. And then some stuff comes out of the blue, as Mirza Teletovic can attest.
"Lots of traffic. That's the biggest adjustment for me," said the sharpshooting forward from Bosnia, playing his first season in the NBA after six years as a star in Europe. Yes, getting to and from the Barclays Center is a major challenge. "You never know what's going to happen. Fun stuff, though."
It sure looks like he knows what to do when he gets inside the building, as he showed Tuesday night in giving the Nets a big spark toward a 113-106 win over the Raptors. He came off the bench to make three three-pointers in the second quarter that made the Nets feel like they were on the open highway.
Teletovic was a valuable and interesting complement to Lopez, who had 22 points, including 10-for-10 at the line, and nine rebounds; and Williams and Johnson, who scored 21 apiece. It was another step forward for the forward, who languished on the bench, like someone stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge at rush hour, during Avery Johnson's term, when the focus was on what he couldn't do.
Shooting three-pointers when he's open, Teletovic said, "That's one of the things that I do do."
He had 10 points in 22 minutes, having shaken off the flu, and he also made a key block in the fourth quarter that led to a fast break that brought many of the 16,236 fans out of their seats. It ended with a behind-the-back pass from Williams to Andray Blatche for a dunk, and a 93-78 lead. It even looked good from the other end of the court, where Teletovic was.
"It was very enjoyable," he said. "Just play basketball and enjoy it."
For the Nets, it is hard not to enjoy the way things are going now. They have won seven in a row and nine of 10 since P.J. Carlesimo took over for Johnson. They are 15-0 against teams with losing records, although they respect the Raptors, who came in on a 10-4 roll. Toronto kept rolling in the first half, building a 10-point lead.
The Nets failed to make a field goal for the first 6:19 of the second quarter until Teletovic bounded into the game and hit a three from the corner. Every night, it seems, someone comes off the bench and does something good. Often, it is someone who had been languishing.
"He stayed patient," Williams said of Teletovic. "He was in a tough position early in the season. He didn't get much playing time, just thrown out there for a couple of minutes. Now he's getting a little more steady playing time."
Teletovic said he was prepared to play as little or as much as he had to. "I stayed in Europe for a long time and had seen almost everything you can see in basketball,'' he said. "Coming over here, once I signed, I was ready to do whatever the coach asked of me, what the team needs to win games."
Johnson said: "I love his game. He's not only just a shooter, man. He can do a lot of other things."
If Teletovic keeps playing like this, Carlesimo will have to play him, at someone's expense. There will be a traffic jam in terms of minutes for everyone. "That's going to be a problem," said the interim coach, who likes that kind of problem.