DALLAS — Former Net Yogi Ferrell insisted his first game against the team that let him go wasn’t about “I told you so.” The goal was to keep moving the Mavericks in the direction of a playoff berth.
Ferrell achieved both ends, scoring 10 of his 17 points as the Mavs took control of a tight game in the fourth period on their way to a 105-96 victory over the Nets on Friday night at American Airlines Center. The Nets finished their eight-game “circus” road trip at 2-6 and will face the Knicks on Sunday at Barclays Center.
The Nets were clinging to a one-point lead early in the fourth when Dirk Nowitzki, who recently became the sixth player in NBA history to pass 30,000 points, hit consecutive three-pointers for an 80-75 Mavs lead. That eventually turned into a 22-6 run, including seven points from Ferrell, for a 96-81 lead.
Discussing his team’s fourth-quarter letdown, Kenny Atkinson said: “Dirk got loose twice and hit those two big threes, kind of started an avalanche. Then we took some tough shots, contested shots, and that got them going. I thought his two threes gave them momentum to push them over the hump.”
The Nets’ bench scored 50-plus points for the eighth time in the past nine games, led by 24 from Isaiah Whitehead. The Nets (11-52) also got 18 points from Jeremy Lin in 26 minutes. Trevor Booker added 15 points, and former Maverick Quincy Acy, who made his first start for the Nets in place of injured Brook Lopez (sprained ankle), added 12 points.
Atkinson was upset by his team’s shot selection, saying: “From the beginning of the game to the end, we did not get good shots. Credit to them, but we just did not get good shots. We weren’t working it side-to-side like we need to against a good defensive team.”
Harrison Barnes topped Dallas (28-36) with 21 points. Seth Curry added 18 and Nowitzki totaled 13. The Mavericks outrebounded the Nets 47-35 and hit 42.4 percent (14-for-33) from three-point range.
Much of the intrigue going into the game revolved around Ferrell, an undrafted rookie point guard out of Indiana who was waived by the Nets in December, signed by the Nets’ D-League team, picked up by the Mavericks in January and thrust into a starting role because of injuries. In 18 games with Ferrell running the show, the Mavs are 12-6 and have moved into playoff contention.
Ferrell came in averaging 12.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals. He was Western Conference rookie of the month in February and had a 32-point game against Portland in which he tied an NBA rookie record by making nine three-pointers (in 11 attempts).
After signing Ferrell to a two-year deal, the Mavericks waived point guard Deron Williams, a former Net, effectively handing the point guard reins to Ferrell. “I was a little shocked they got rid of Deron,” Ferrell said. “He’s an All-Star. Once they did that, then I knew this is definitely my opportunity to be able to stay here in the long run.”
Ferrell hit the go-ahead basket in an 11-2 second-quarter run that gave the Mavs a 46-43 lead. The Nets regained an eight-point third-quarter lead, but the Mavs responded with a 23-9 run that included 10 points from Curry.
After the game, Ferrell said the Nets’ decision to waive him fueled his fire. “When I went to the D-League, I stayed with it,” he said. “I knew my time would come for that second opportunity and I wanted to be ready. I definitely thank Brooklyn. I feel like I learned a lot from them.”