Nets beat Washington for 3rd straight win

February 4, 2009 9:27:52 PM PST
It's been almost six years since the New Jersey Nets shot better than 60 percent in a game. Of course, it's not often they get a chance to play an undermanned team with fed-up fans chanting the name of a fired coach. In what hardly seemed like a fair fight, the Nets won their third straight game Wednesday night by shooting 61 percent in a 115-88 victory over the worst-in-the-East Washington Wizards, who had Caron Butler absent with the flu and Antawn Jamison giving a should-have-been-absent 4-for-20 shooting performance.

Devin Harris scored 26 points, Vince Carter added 20, Ryan Anderson got 18, and Keyon Dooling had 14 for the Nets, who made 12 of 22 3-pointers and turned the game into a rout by outscoring the Wizards 35-18 in the third period.

"We just came out well in the third quarter," said rookie center Brook Lopez, who added 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. "We obviously made a little run. We came to the bench, Keyon was saying, 'Hit them right now, when they're frustrated."' Frustrated they were. The Wizards, with eight men in uniform, got so rattled trying to stop the Nets' pick-and-roll that their offensive game ground to a halt.

The scene became so disheartening that in the fourth quarter fans began to chant "Edd-ie Jor-dan! Edd-ie Jor-dan!" - a tribute to the coach who took Washington to four consecutive playoff appearances before being fired by team president Ernie Grunfeld after this season's 1-10 start. Jordan's replacement, interim coach Ed Tapscott, is 9-29.

"We had enough to compete for a half," Tapscott said. "We got frustrated, and the discipline of the offense left us in the second half. At that point, when we break down, there's a lot of dribbling, a lot of one-on-one, and we're not going to be very good."

The Nets had their best shooting night since a 62-percent performance in a 122-101 win at New York on March 28, 2003. It was the highest percentage allowed by the Wizards since the Los Angeles Lakers shot 61 percent in a 120-99 win on Nov. 26, 2003.

The Nets have their first three-game winning streak since late November, bouncing back from a 1-8 skid. In this game, the backups were as sharp as the starting five, with Jarvis Hayes, Josh Boone and Dooling combining for 29 points on 11-for-15 shooting.

The Wizards have lost seven of eight and 14 of 17, and Wednesday's defeat matched their loss total (39) from all of last season. Of course, it didn't help that the sidelined Washington contingent consisted of Butler (flu), Gilbert Arenas (knee), Brendan Haywood (wrist), Etan Thomas (knee), DeShawn Stevenson (back), Juan Dixon (elbow) and Andray Blatche (knee). Tapscott had played all eight of his available players before the end of the first period.

"You have to take advantage of games we feel we need to win," Carter said. "When they have that many guys out, we felt we needed to take care of business."

Tapscott said before the game that his script would be "AJ left, AJ right, AJ up the middle," but Jamison was a non-factor and finished with just 10 points. Nick Young led the Wizards with 21 points, Mike James added 13, and Oleksiy Pecherov had a season-high 13.

The Wizards led 51-44 late in the second quarter, but the Nets closed the half with a 14-2 run and scored the first 11 points of the second half. New Jersey found success early and often by lobbing the ball into the paint to Lopez and Anderson, as well as with the open 3-point shot.

"We didn't want to have a let-up," Harris said. "Especially when we found out Caron wasn't playing with the flu, we couldn't afford to let up here."

Notes: Nets F Eduardo Najera (right lower abdominal strain) and F Bobby Simmons (left lower abdominal strain) both missed their second straight game. ... Washington players Young and JaVale McGee have Feb. 26 court dates after they were charged with reckless driving while traveling in separate cars on the way to Washington Dulles airport on New Year's Day. They were on their way to catch the team flight for a road game in Boston. ... Before the game, Arenas walked through the locker room with a "Do Not Disturb" hotel room sign hanging from a chain around his neck.