DALLAS — The Brooklyn Nets not only have the best record in the Eastern Conference since the start of January, they are no slouch when it comes to facing the big, bad West.
Brooklyn, one of just three Eastern teams with a winning record against the West, continued their recent mastery over the Dallas Mavericks by rallying for a 107-104 overtime win Sunday night at American Airlines Center.
The Nets (37-31) won for the 11th time in their last 13 games, as they continue to climb in the East playoff picture. Brooklyn, fifth in the conference, is eyeing a top-four seed with 14 games left in the regular season.
“This is huge to come back against a team that’s trying to make the playoffs,” said Nets guard Deron Williams, a Dallas native. “First game of the road trip and we stressed the importance to get this one. This was big for us to be able to come back and get the win.”
The Mavericks (42-29) fell into eighth in the Western Conference and dropped to 2-2 on their franchise-record eight-game homestand. Dallas has lost three in a row to the Nets after dominating the series for years. The last time the Mavericks were swept in season series by the Nets was 1999-2000.
Jason Kidd was the Nets’ point guard then. Now, he’s their rookie coach and has guided the franchise from a rough start to the season into contention.
Brooklyn was down 14 in the first half, but kept plugging away to take the game into overtime.
“Trust and composure,” Kidd said. “Guys stayed the course and kept fighting. We had trouble rebounding the ball coming down the stretch, but the guys found a way, stayed together and they made big plays throughout the game.”
The Nets took their first lead (73-72) since the game’s first minute on two free throws from Williams with 10:09 remaining. After it appeared the Mavericks had regained control, Brooklyn tied the game at 91 on guard Joe Johnson’s driving layup with 9.9 seconds remaining.
“We were in great position and twice we couldn’t get stops in regulation,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Give them credit. They executed.”
Dallas guard Monta Ellis missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Johnson put the visitors back on top 96-93 with a 3-pointer early in overtime. A steal and breakaway layup by guard Shaun Livingston put Brooklyn up 100-95. Williams followed with a 3-pointer for an eight-point edge with 1:26 to play.
Johnson scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds. Guard Marcus Thornton had 20 points. Forward Paul Pierce and Williams each scored 15 points, although both struggled from the floor, shooting a combined 6-for-19.
Ellis (32 points) gave the Mavericks a sliver of hope with two 3-pointers late in overtime, the second pulling Dallas within 105-104 with 5.4 seconds remaining. After two free throws from Pierce, Ellis missed a long, running 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki had a miserable game, making just 2 of 12 attempts and scoring 10 points. Mavericks center Samuel Dalembert blocked a season-high seven shots, pulled down 15 rebounds and scored 12 points.
Dallas continues its stay at home Tuesday against Oklahoma City, which is second in the West. The Nets finish a back-to-back at New Orleans on Monday before concluding their three-game road trip Wednesday at Charlotte.
The Mavericks jumped on the Nets right off the bat, building a double-digit lead in the first quarter, largely from contributions off the bench. Reserve guard Devin Harris had nine points in the period and Dallas was up 29-15 going into the second.
Harris was pressed into early action after starting point guard Jose Calderon took an inadvertent shot to the face from Nets rookie forward Mason Plumlee in the first minute of the game and left the court. Calderon never returned.
“Don’t think it’s serious, but I have not gotten an official word on it. He got hit in the mouth,” Carlisle said. “I don’t really have the details. I saw him at halftime; he was in the locker room at halftime. He’s OK, but I think there’s some stuff in the mouth they’re looking at.”
The shots that fell for Dallas early did not fall in the second quarter, and the Nets quickly cut into the deficit behind Thornton to get within six points. Dallas took a 48-41 edge into halftime.
NOTES: Jason Kidd returned to Dallas, where he won an NBA title in 2011, for the first time as coach of the Nets. “It’s always good to come back where you won a championship,” Kidd said. “It’s a good feeling.” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle realized he was coaching a future coach in Kidd. “He’s doing a great job,” Carlisle said, “One of the hardest things about coaching is being able to bring a team out of a tough period, and he’s been phenomenal.” … Brooklyn C Kevin Garnett (back) missed his 12th consecutive game. … The Nets are one of three Eastern Conference teams with a winning record against the West. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are the other two.
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