Nets beat Memphis for 3rd straight win

January 7, 2009 8:42:34 PM PST
It's rarely this easy for the New Jersey Nets, especially in their own building. Vince Carter had 25 points and a season-high 12 assists, and the Nets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-89 on Wednesday night for their third straight home victory.

Playing without leading scorer Devin Harris (sore right hamstring), the Nets enjoyed one of the most relaxing nights a team could have. They raced to an early double-digit lead, kept it most of the way, and never trailed in a game for the first time this season.

"When you get a lead like that, for us, we just have to protect the home court," Carter said. "We wanted to get a lead, keep a lead, put the game away."

The Nets shot 54 percent from the field and won for the first time in five games this season without Harris, their starting point guard. Besides Carter's strong play, Keyon Dooling added nine points and eight assists as Harris' replacement.

"We're asking a lot from Keyon and Vince as the primary ball handlers," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said, "and you know I think they've done a very, very good job."

Yi Jianlian added 20 points, and rookie Brook Lopez had 17 for the Nets, who are just 8-12 at the Meadowlands even after their longest home winning streak of the season. They are 10-6 on the road and returned to .500 overall at 18-18.

Rookie O.J. Mayo scored 26 points, and Rudy Gay had 23 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to 0-9 this season when playing on the second night of back-to-back games.

"No excuses. Every team plays a back-to-back," Mayo said.

"It's not our first back-to-back, it's not going to be our last, so there's no excuse there. We've jut got to come out and play.

We're a professional ball team and we've got to come out and play hard."

The Nets scored the first seven points and hit nine of their first 13 shots, finishing at 69 percent in the first quarter to take a 32-18 lead. The lead grew to 16 on Carter's dunk with 1:29 remaining in the half, and New Jersey was up 55-42 at the break.

Lopez was 8-of-11 from the floor, powering his way to a number of easy dunks. He also grabbed eight rebounds and matched a season high with five blocked shots.

"A lot of people were just telling me to attack the rim, try to be strong," Lopez said. "You know, don't worry about getting blocked, or anything like that. Don't worry about trying to draw a foul. Just go up there strong and everything will work out."

New Jersey had a 69-53 lead after Dooling's layup with 6:58 left in the third before Memphis finally got going. Mayo hit a pair of jumpers and Gay a pair of dunks during a 14-4 spurt that trimmed it to 73-67 with 3:08 remaining.

"It's tough playing behind at any level," Gay said. "Any kind of sport it's tough playing from behind. It's tough trying to get back those points that you've lost the whole game."

The Nets quickly pushed it back to double figures after Eduardo Najera hit a jumper and 3-pointer on consecutive trips and led 81-71 after three.

New Jersey got strong games from reserves Najera, who had nine points, and Jarvis Hayes, who had eight points and eight boards.

Memphis faced a double-digit deficit most of the final period before Hakim Warrick's three-point play trimmed it to 91-82 with 3:15 to play. Mayo then hit a pair of free throws, but Carter found Yi for an open jumper, then knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 95-84.

Marc Gasol finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Notes: The Nets hope Harris, averaging 23.1 points, can return Friday at Milwaukee. ... The Grizzlies waived F Darius Miles on Wednesday. He appeared in two games for them. ... Memphis fell to 0-13 when failing to reach 20 points in the first quarter.