DALLAS – If the Brooklyn Nets make the playoffs – and they took a huge step towards doing so Saturday night – they will look back on this remarkably resilient win over the Dallas Mavericks as the most important triumph of the season.

On the last night of a grueling 10-day, five-game road trip, one night after having blown a five-point lead in the final minutes of a loss in Houston, the Nets outwilled and outworked the Mavericks in a 104-94 win over one of the league’s elite teams in American Airlines Center.

The Nets trailed 51-47 at halftime but used a 30-14 run to start the third quarter that turned the game. Deron Williams had 12 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter to lead the Nets.

The win gives the Nets a 24-33 record, a 3-2 mark on this trip, and pushes them back into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Mavs (39-22) had only lost nine home games prior to Saturday night.

The Nets led the Rockets 95-90 with less than three minutes remaining in Friday night’s 102-98 loss. They dropped a 102-96 decision in New Orleans against a Pelicans’ team that didn’t have Anthony Davis.

But they took an 82-72 lead into the fourth quarter against the Mavs. After Devin Harris hit a halfcourt three that might have broken the Nets’ will earlier in the season, they didn’t blink.

“We had a good road trip,’’ said Nets Coach Lionel Hollins. “To close out the road trip with a win here in Dallas, we kept going up in class in terms of opponents. We had a chance to win every game. We felt like Friday night was our game. We didn’t get it but we came back tonight. We were strong mentally.’’

KEY STRETCH: The Nets trailed 51-47 entering the third quarter. They scored the first seven points to put the Mavs on their heels. Brooklyn never let up, dropping a 30-14 bomb to seize a 77-65 lead.

“That was the game,’’ said Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle. “The third quarter did us in.’’

KEY PLAY: After the Nets opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 54-51 lead, Dallas countered to take a 58-57 lead. With the game in the balance, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to help the Nets build a 71-59 advantage.

KEY STAT: The Nets arguably played their best road quarter of the season against a quality opponent. Led by Deron Williams, the Nets outscored the Mavs, 35-21, to take an 82-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

NETS GAINS: Deron Williams was a state wrestling champ in Texas and he played like a warrior all night. In addition to his game-high 23 points, he had six rebounds and helped contain Rajon Rondo, who had eight points on 4-of-10 shooting and four turnovers.

TALK: Mason Plumlee, who had his 12th double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, was asked if this was the biggest win of the season.

“I would say the most mature win,” Plumlee said. “Just because it’s the last game of the road trip, coming in on a back-to-back.

“These are all things earlier in the season I think we would have pointed to had we had lost. 'Oh, back-to-back. Oh, tough last game.' When you’re not a player, you can make excuses. I would say it was our most mature win.’’


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