Newcomer Helps Nets Snap 10-Game Road Slide
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The road finally got a little nicer for the New Jersey Nets.
Brook Lopez scored 26 points, Sasha Vujacic added a season-high 16 and the Nets snapped a 10-game road losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
“When you are going through a streak like that, your main thing is you have to stay positive,” forward Travis Outlaw said. “You can’t get too down on yourself. Being down on yourself makes the streak last longer.”
The victory marked the first time the Nets had won away from home since Nov. 15, a 110-96 triumph over the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Lopez was 8 of 14 from the field and missed only one of his 11 free throws as New Jersey won its second straight and third in the last four games. With a string of better games and finally ending the bad stretch on the road, the Nets are showing more life.
“There has been some carry-over in general,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We’ve got positive energy. Our defense early in the season was good enough to win some games, but we couldn’t score. Now, we’re being spaced a little more and dominant offensively inside.”
Devin Harris and Kris Humphries scored 12 apiece, with Humphries grabbing 15 rebounds. Outlaw had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Nets outrebounded Memphis 49-39.
Marc Gasol scored 19 points for Memphis and O.J. Mayo added 17, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Mike Conley finished with 13 points and eight assists. Zach Randolph had 11 points and 14 rebounds, but only one point and two boards after halftime.
“We limited them to one shot most of the second half, and that’s really what changed it,” Lopez said. “Randolph’s bread and butter, what he’s great at, is getting those offensive rebounds and putting them right back in. So we tried to limit that after the half, and it worked really well for us.”
Vujacic, acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in a Dec. 15 three-team trade, was 6 of 8 from the field, missing only one of three shots outside the arc. It marked the second straight game where he has surpassed his season high.
The Nets built a double-digit lead, scoring the last nine points of the first quarter as part of a 15-1 run spanning the first and second periods. The New Jersey lead eventually would stretch to 14 points.
Memphis, which lost its third straight, was able to chip away at the advantage before the Nets carried a 45-43 lead into halftime.
“We cut the lead down to two at the half, and then plays looked terrible in the second half,” Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay said.
Memphis shot 34 percent in the half, with Gay, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, misfiring on nine of his 10 shots. He would end the night 4 of 16 for 11 points, while Randolph was 4 of 13 as the Grizzlies shot 40 percent.
The Nets made 10 of their first 15 shots in the third quarter, extending their lead to 69-57, and led by six heading to the fourth.
The Nets never relinquished the lead in the final period and finished the game shooting 53 percent.
“We couldn’t get a stop when we needed one,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “Vujacic came off the bench and made shots in our face, and Lopez just kept scoring and scoring. There were a lot of mistakes made on schemes and a lack of effort.”
Notes: Asked during his pregame availability if there was anything new on the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, Johnson said: “Not that I can report. I can’t report anything.” As Johnson was talking, Lopez turned the wrong way leaving the locker room. “This is the way to the bus,” Johnson said to Lopez. “The court is that way.” Gay was back in the Memphis lineup after serving a one-game suspension (Sunday at San Antonio) for a flagrant foul 2 on Rockets F Luis Scola last Friday. The Grizzlies’ 110-63 win over the Nets on Dec. 12, 2003, in the old Pyramid Arena remains the largest Memphis victory margin in franchise history. The Grizzlies announced they will honor Willie Mays, Lenny Wilkens and Willis Reed during this season’s Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in January. New Jersey is 3-12 on the road.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)