LOS ANGELES (AP) – Devin Harris wasn’t very proud of himself for getting ejected in the second quarter and leaving his teammates short-handed. He was proud of the way they responded in his absence, though.
Brook Lopez scored 24 points, Travis Outlaw added 23 against his former team, and the New Jersey Nets overcame the absence of their leading scorer to beat the Clippers 110-96 on Monday night and send Los Angeles to its sixth straight loss.
“We were making a run at that point in time, and obviously I didn’t want to leave the game. But sometimes you’ve got to trust your team when we’re faced with this kind of adversity,” Harris said. “Obviously things happened, but guys were ready to play tonight.”
The Nets (4-6) already are one-third of the way toward last season’s victory total, when they finished 12-70 after an NBA record-worst 0-18 start.
Harris had eight points and seven assists in 14 minutes before his sudden departure for the frightening Grade 2 flagrant foul the seventh-year point guard committed against standout rookie forward Blake Griffin by tackling him on a breakaway drive with 6:42 left in the second quarter and the Nets leading 38-27. The Nets are hoping he won’t be suspended by the NBA.
“That was a tough call,” coach Avery Johnson said. “Devin wasn’t trying to injure the guy. He definitely wasn’t trying to commit a flagrant foul. We just don’t like to give layups. Hopefully we’ll just get past that situation and have him back for the next game. More than anything, I’m interested in how our team responded. We really had some solid performances from our bench, and the guys gutted it out.”
Griffin, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, got a long lead pass from DeAndre Jordan after Jordan’s interception of Harris’ pass. He was heading to the basket for one of his monster dunks when Harris reached over Griffin’s shoulders with both hands and aggressively yanked him to the floor from behind.
“I was kind of looking up at the ball, and when I saw I couldn’t get it, I tried to just make sure he didn’t get his arms up,” Harris said. “I got my arms caught up around his neck, obviously, and you saw the way he fell. I didn’t think it was that bad when I did it, but once I came back here and saw it a couple of times, it looked pretty bad. So it probably was the right call. I wasn’t trying to body-slam him or anything like that. It was just an awkward play at an awkward angle.”
Griffin landed hard on his left elbow, with Harris still clutching his jersey with one hand in an attempt to break his fall.
“I don’t think he was trying to something malicious or anything like that,” Griffin said. “I figured he was going to foul me because they didn’t want to give up two easy points. But I think the momentum of the play made it look worse than it actually was. I cut my elbow up pretty good, but my head didn’t hit the floor. I just kind of lay there for a second and did like a mental check to make sure I was good.”
The Nets ended a string of 23 consecutive road losses against Western Conference teams, dating to a 99-88 win at Memphis on Jan. 24, 2009. They had lost their previous six against the Clippers at Staples Center.
Nets guard Anthony Morrow picked up two fouls in the first 1:24 and scored just nine points in 22 minutes – exactly two years to the day that he scored a career-high 37 points against the Clippers while playing for the Golden State Warriors in his first NBA start.
Los Angeles native and UCLA product Jordan Farmar, who signed a three-year contract with the Nets in July, played his first game at Staples Center since he and the Lakers beat Boston in Game 7 of the NBA finals. Farmar finished with 15 points and 12 assists in 34 minutes as a reserve.
The injury-depleted Clippers, off to a 1-10 start and struggling badly without center Chris Kaman and point guard Baron Davis, got 30 points from shooting guard Eric Gordon in his second game back from a bruised left shoulder. Reserve guard Randy Foye missed his ninth straight game because of a left hamstring strain.
“In this game, I thought it came down to scoring,” said Griffin, who had 11 points and just three rebounds in 30 minutes. “We made a few runs here and there and got a few stops, but we’ve got to be able to score and move the ball and limit their open shots.”
Outlaw, who played his final 23 games last season with the Clippers after they acquired him from Portland in the Marcus Camby trade, led New Jersey to a 55-44 halftime lead with 18 points. He ended the half on a fadeaway 3-pointer from the left sideline with a second on the clock, falling backward into the Nets’ bench as the ball went through the cylinder.
Trailing by as many as 13, the Clippers closed to 85-82 on Eric Bledsoe’s breakaway layup off a turnover with 7:56 to play. But Morrow hit a 19-footer with 5:13 remaining for a seven-point lead, then Outlaw drained a 3-pointer from the left sideline for a commanding 100-90 cushion with 2:50 to play.
NOTES: Johnson and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, both in their first season with their respective clubs, were teammates for five years with San Antonio. This was the first time they’ve coached against each other in the NBA. “Vinny is a guy who’s always been very knowledgeable of the game,” Johnson said. “When he first retired and was doing broadcasting for a while, he talked about getting back in to it on some level. I thought it was going to be on at a management level, at first, but then he started talking more and more about coaching – and, low and behind, an opportunity came along with Chicago and he did a nice job there.” … The Nets won only four of their first 52 games last season. One of the wins came against Del Negro’s Bulls, and another was against the Clippers. … Gordon was 16 for 20 from the free throw line. The Nets as a team were 18 for 19.
Updated November 16, 2010
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