Mirza Teletovic makes his presence felt... on the defensive side of the ball

Rob Carr

Last night, Mirza created offense by playing strong defense.

What made Mirza Teletovic's performance on Tuesday night so good was that he played probably his most complete game as a Brooklyn Net.

We can call out his long-range shooting --- in which he went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc -- and his deft passing -- where coach P.J. Carlesimo was almost certain that Mirza had "four or five... good" assists, as opposed to the three he was credited for -- but what really stood out was Teletovic's presence on the defensive side of the ball.

As Howard Megdal points out, Teletovic didn't need to score in the second half of last night's game to have an impact.

In sixteen minutes of play, Teletovic missed all four of his shot attempts, but played far better defense than he had for virtually the entire season, grabbed three rebounds, and dished out three assists in the half. He'd failed to collect more than two assists in any previous game, and had only done that twice.

There's no denying that Teletovic has great offensive value, especially in stretching the floor, but as he continues to adjust to the pace of the NBA game, he's beginning to figure out where he fits defensively.

As he told the media nearly two weeks ago, he's been watching Reggie Evans on the defensive side of the ball, trying to emulate him and his active play.

And in doing just that, last night he turned his hustle on the defensive side of the ball into four fastbreak points. Points that weren't "credited" to Teletovic, but points that came by way of his ball recognition and Evans-like, active performance on what was considered his "weak" side of the ball.

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